If Joe Biden wins the presidency, Sen. Kamala Harris would be the first female vice president in the history of the United States. You couldn’t help but think this was looming over the debate last night. I know as a female journalist, watching this debate felt both historic and frustrating at the same time.
Teen Vogue’s Ava Johnson said this about Harris’ approach:
“Interesting intonation…calmer and softer than her primary debate speech style. I think she’s trying to avoid misogynistic comments about female ‘bitchiness’ when women are passionate or emphatic in speech.”
Basically, as women, we know in the workplace, we always need to be on our best behavior. It’s sad but true. If not you know you’ll be called things like “nasty,” or worse. In this case, though, it didn’t matter. Even though Harris was cool and collected, that didn’t stop the chauvinists. This morning, Donald Trump repeatedly called Harris a “monster” and his cronies, mostly men, also joined in the name-calling.
Trump refers to Kamala Harris as “this monster” pic.twitter.com/hcnUpV8PBf— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 8, 2020
A political consultant, whose Twitter bio says he is on the advisory board for Donald Trump and a commentator at Fox News, went even lower calling Harris a “bitch.” Is this acceptable commentary, even for Fox News?
(UPDATE 6:30 pm Thursday: CNBC reports: Hill will no longer be allowed to appear on Fox News, the network said Thursday.)
Actually, one Republican senator is helping pile on against his own colleague. Though it’s a little more subtle jab about a woman in power.
But it wasn’t all men taking a misogynistic route. Former Fox News’ host (and one time debate moderator) Megyn Kelly joined in.
But let’s flip things around, and think of this from a woman’s perspective. And change words like “nasty” to “strong.”
While this debate may not have moved the needle, it may have given women a chance to put themselves in Harris’ shoes. For instead CNN’s Gloria Borger noted that women may have been frustrated seeing Pence interrupting Harris. It was reminiscent of Rep. Maxine Waters’ famous comment “reclaiming my time.”
Of course, this misogyny is nothing new. NBC writes:
When Geraldine Ferraro became the first female vice presidential nominee on a major party’s ticket, alongside Democrat Walter Mondale, critics attempted to make her look incapable of serving as commander in chief, quizzing her relentlessly about arms control minutiae.
But that was 1984 and this is 2020. (And Ronald Reagan, for what it’s worth, never called Ferraro a monster, nor would have sunk so low.) Nearly two generations of voters have been born since the first woman ran for vice president, and they will not look kindly on the men still desperate to keep them out of power.
*This post contains opinion and analysis from News & Guts reporter Cindi Avila