A minor firestorm erupted yesterday when Joy Behar, co-host of The View, criticized a campaign ad by Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, implying the ad was racist. She then fired off a tirade that included the following lovely statements:
“You know what I’d like to see her do? I’d like to see her do this ad in the south Bronx. Come here, bitch! Come to New York and do it,” Behar said.
When Sherri Shepherd tried to move on by saying she would pray for Angle, Behar made it clear she was not. “I am not praying for her. I’m telling you right now. She’s going to Hell … She’s going to Hell, this bitch.”
That day Sharron Angle raised $150,000 in online donations stemming from outrage over Behar’s repeated slurs. As a joke, she sent Behar flowers with a thank-you note that set Behar off on yet another rant, saying, “Those flowers were picked by illegal immigrants and they aren’t voting for you, bitch!” Never mind, of course, that illegal immigrants shouldn’t be voting for anybody, but that’s beside the point.
Behar claimed she was just joking, and that Angle’s ad is the real offense, but that hasn’t stopped a few feminist groups from taking exception to Behar’s comments. Sadly, it seems more than a little indicative of the tone when major media types speak about conservative women or any woman in the GOP at all.
Just a few weeks ago, we were witness to someone on the Jerry Brown campaign calling Meg Whitman a whore, with the candidate himself saying “We may use that.” No repercussions, just a lame explanation. Maureen Dowd takes the shotgun approach and calls most of the leading Republican women “Mean Girl” extremists and nihilistic cheerleaders in catty column reminiscent of high school jealousy. And Washington Post columnist Wendy Doniger wrote during the 2008 campaign that Sarah Palin’s biggest hypocrisy was “her pretense that she is a woman.” Because, apparently, you’re not really a woman unless you follow the liberal line.
To be sure, nasty and over-the-line comments have been made about Hillary Clinton and others, but the sneering condescension is so widespread that it’s almost taken for granted that if you’re an outspoken conservative woman, you’re a nutjob self-loathing subhuman who can’t read and has rightfully earned nothing but mocking ridicule.
Most of it can be attributed to our political culture in general, where those who disagree with you aren’t just wrong, but evil morons bent on sucking the life out of America. But beginning with the barrage on Sarah Palin, some of which she earned with poor interview performances, it’s almost as though there are two sets of rules for women on the left and right. I recall a liberal mother of a friend commenting that Sarah Palin was unfit for office because she had an infant son with Down’s Syndrome – she should really just stay at home and take care of her kids because she won’t have time as VP.
It struck me as an incredibly sexist thing to say, compounded in craziness since it was articulated by a woman. I am nothing less than amazed when those who claim to hold the rights of women in high regard so easily shed their compunctions when the target is a pro-life woman, as though by her beliefs she is a traitor to her gender and worthy of derision.
There’s a way to respectfully disagree with the policies and beliefs of those on the opposite side of the political spectrum. That way has pretty much disappeared in our race to appeal to the lowest common denominator. You can be sure that if Fox’s Megyn Kelly had “joked” that Michelle Obama a bitch on consecutive days, she would no longer be employed there. Whatever you think of Sharron Angle, Meg Whitman, Sarah Palin, and others – they have their flaws and shouldn’t be immune to criticism on policy. But they deserve better than to be called bitches and whores.
Cross-posted at The Moderate Voice.