Opinion

Is It Sexist To Ask Women In Politics Tough Questions?

(REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

Scott Greer Contributor

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards sat down for quite the congressional inquisition Tuesday.

During a four-hour marathon session, Richards had to field several questions on the scandal surrounding her organization potentially selling fetal body parts under dubious circumstances.

As should be expected with any congressional hearing on such a politically-tumultuous subject, the Planned Parenthood exec got into a heated exchange with nearly every Republican member of the House Oversight Committee.

Of course, a lot of the questioning would be better classified as grandstanding. Even conservatives would admit that. But it’s a congressional hearing, so it comes with the territory.

However, Richards’s liberal supporters have pounced on a unique attack line against her inquisitors: the GOP congressmen were engaging in outright misogyny. The evidence given for that assertion is how often committee members like Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy interrupted Ms. Richards and the tone in which they asked questions. Apparently, it was too harsh and a few commentators angrily denounced the committee for pushing the PP exec to the point of tears. (RELATED: RAMPANT MISOGYNY: Dem Rep Scolds Republicans’ Questioning Of Planned Parenthood President)

If you ever had the pleasure of watching an Oversight Committee hearing, you’d understand Richards’s treatment was no different from other contentious figures — male or female — who come before its proceedings. Everyone gets interrupted, suffers grandstanding and withstands hostile barbs. It’s par the course, and Planned Parenthood’s head honcho didn’t experience any great exception.

But the assertion that her tough questioning was somehow sexist is a recurrent theme used by female politicos and their supporters in our society. And there’s no greater proponent of this argument than Hillary Clinton and her fan base.

Media Matters for America, a Clinton attack dog machine that somehow qualifies for 501 (c)(3) status, has a whole plethora of articles castigating various figures for sexism against Hillary. The group even criticized liberal columnist Maureen Down for offering advice — advice — to the Democratic frontrunner that Media Matters deemed full of “sexist tropes.”

There was also that infamous list of adjectives and phrases Hillary supporters were told to look out for, and immediately correct if applied to their favorite candidate. Because these words — which included “polarizing” and “disingenuous” — amount to “coded sexism.” (RELATED: Here Are The Words Hillary’s Supporters Won’t Let You Say)

Some of her fans have even enlisted the charge of misogyny to aid Clinton in her bid to deflect flak from her email scandal. A DailyKos writer argued in early September that the only reason why the Democrat’s possibly illegal handling of emails is an issue is because our society views women in power as “unnatural and an aberration.” That’s the only justification the left-wing scribe can see in wanting to know whether a possible commander in chief followed the law. (RELATED: Got Caught Doing Wrong? Just Play The Outraged Victim Card!)

Several other prominent Democrat women have benefited from the tactic when trying to defend themselves from criticism. A handful of left-wing publications ran to Wendy Davis’s defense when her character was attacked for sordid actions in her past. The liberal media deemed asking about why Davis exploited an ex-husband and abandoned her kids as a thought process rife with gender bias. Even though the sordid details of all candidates become campaign fodder as voters do like to know the character of those seeking office.

Another unsuccessful 2014 Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes received help from the media to combat phony sexist attacks. The Huffington Post, for example, labelled a Washington Times editorial that criticized Grimes for being artificial as sexist. Because calling someone a plastic pretender is automatically a misogynistic dog-whistle.

And it’s not a tactic exclusive to the left. Carly Fiorina, the only woman running in the Republican presidential primary, has also reverted to the sexist card in the race. In response to questions that she’s only running to be vice president, she said, “If I may say, and I don’t say this very often — the people who keep saying I’m in this for vice president, that’s sexist.” (RELATED: Carly Fiorina Plays The ‘Sexist’ Victim Card)

Though, in her defense, she and her supporters haven’t played the card in trying to defuse questions over her controversial business record.

Here’s the issue with the sexist card: Women want to be treated no different from men in 21st century America and share in all the benefits and downsides that comes with that desire. So why should women not have to field tough questions or have their records examined just like the men do?

All of the examples above are par the course for politics, regardless of gender. It is not a pretty game. Sometimes it even resembles a bloody, scorched earth civil war. While attacks based on gender bias sometimes arise in the public discourse, none of the attacks listed above meet that criteria. Nor do the vast majority of criticism that gets tagged as sexism meet the qualifications either.

If women want to be treated equally, they have to accept that they cannot hide behind the sexist card to stifle legitimate criticism.

Hopefully, Cecile Richards’s white knights get that memo.

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