I know I am simply asking for it in writing this blog, but I have to let off steam.
Why did I start and finish my day yesterday defending Jennifer Ganholm’s speech the night before? She hit a home run, giving a passionate, spirited, dead-on speech that energized the convention hall. Had she been a man, the buzz would be about what role will she next play.
But read the following headlines. I could provide many more:
Huffington Post wrote “Jennifer Granholm electrified the Democratic National Convention crowd Thursday with a bold, energetic, and above all loud speech that took direct aim at Republican nominee Mitt Romney”
Roll Call wrote “Surprisingly John Kerry, Jennifer Granholm Give Strong Speeches at DNC
Noah Rothman wrote “ Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s barnburner speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night brought down the house for convention attendees”
CNN commentator David Gergen tweeted: “If anyone ever tells you a woman can’t give an energizing, hard-hitting speech, tell them to watch video of Jennifer Granholm.”
Carbonated TV wrote “If there is someone who rightfully deserves the award for the most electrifying speech at Democratic Speech on Thursday, it has to be none other than former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. The bold, energetic and fiery speech of Current TV’s prime time show host took direct aim at Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”
The Christian Science Monitor described Granholm’s speech as an “arm-waving, cheerleading tour de force” and included two of her quotes on its list of the convention’s best lines.
The onslaught began with insulting remarks by The Detroit News’ own editorial page editor, Nolan Finley, on the Paul W. Smith show making inappropriate comments and deriding her performance. Finley said something to the effect that Granholm “looked like she had a squirrel up her leg” and continued throughout the day.
What was singularly the most bothersome, besides the idiocy and demeaning nature of the comments, was that they were all men, and men of all walks of life, political parties and race. In other words, pure sexism. The double standard that exists yet in this country was alive and well yesterday in post-convention critiquing.
Wikipedia’s definition of sexism reads “sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is defined as prejudice or discrimination based on sex; or conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. Sexist attitudes are frequently based on beliefs in traditional stereotypes of gender roles. Sexism is not just a matter of individual attitudes, but is built into many societal institutions.”
Well societal attitudes, blatant chauvinism and the double standard for a man vs. a woman is alive and well.
One might think that women, who are more than 50% of the electorate, would have greater impact on the political process. Men who I know, I thought I respected, that I work with and are friends, reminded me this week why it is so hard for women to break into the “old boy network.”
A woman in politics gives a strong passionate speech and she is derided and called many things beyond the Energizer Bunny. A man is considered a future candidate for President.
Women who enter politics cannot win on other fronts, either. Women politicians are criticized for not being good wives or mothers or paying enough attention to their families. If they spend too much time with their families they are perceived as distracted public servants. Do you ever hear one of the old boys accused of either? The double standards, the cheap shots, the insulting and demeaning comments are offensive, insulting and wrong.
I think Jennifer Granholm delivered a powerful speech that rightfully and effectively made strong arguments about what President Barack Obama did for the American auto industry. The onslaught of insults that followed her speech is why so many good people don’t want to run for office in either party. Saying good job, well done is just too hard for too many people to say. We need civility back in the public policy dialogue — more substantive and respectful exchanges and fewer insults.
I know what’s coming. And I cannot wait to see comments on this. But at least I got my say.