Ellison’s Must Read of the Day

Ellison Barber
• February 28, 2014 8:06 am


My must read of the day is "Outrage Over Sexist Remarks Turns Into a Political Fund-Raising Tool," in the New York Times:

In the past few months, Republicans have called Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for Texas governor, "Abortion Barbie," likened Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Senate candidate from Kentucky, to an "empty dress," criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton’s thighs, and referred to a pregnant woman as a "host."

Democrats do not just get mad when they hear those words. They cash in.

In fact, they are trying to find even more examples by tracking Republican opponents, their surrogates and conservative news media personalities, then blasting their comments out to supporters to build voter lists and drum up donations, casting aside the well-worn advice to shrug off sexist comments lest they draw attention to gender over issues.

I realize this is a fundraising strategy. Everyone needs to have fundraising strategies. But the prevalence of this strategy bothers me.

I strongly support calling out sexist remarks, so long as they're truly sexist. The examples in this Times article, to my mind, fall into that category. The Hillary Papers did not.

But where do you draw the line? At some point, shouldn’t it also be a problem that these campaigns are dependent on sexism for money? Isn't that allowing yourself to be defined by your gender and those comments, rather than the issues?

In a way it makes these candidates and these organizations an active participant in sexism. Sexism becomes a commodity the campaigns need for survival and profit.

It seems to me that these campaigns are acquiescing to the very thing they claim to despise—either because they don't actually care, and money matters more to them, or because they don’t know what they’re doing.

If the campaigns actually cared about sexism, one would expect it to be a bigger campaign issue, discussed in the context of domestic abuse or rape. Sadly, it rarely is.