Yes Jon Stewart, There is a Double Standard
In last night’s episode of the Tonight Show, Jon Stewart fabulously calls out the not so subtle aspects of sexism and the absurd double standard faced by female politicians. I spent most of this sketch with mouth open in disbelief from the news anchor sound bites, even those from many female news anchors.
Are you ready for this? In regards to Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy news, one anchor said, “Could it put a bump in Hillary’s 2016 plans? And is it sexist to ask?” I love John Stewart’s response, “No, silly Billy, of course it’s not sexist, even though it’s a question that has never, ever been posed to a male candidate, ever.” He goes to comment about Mitt Romney’s liter of grandchildren and how the grandchildren question never came up with Obama and Romney, ending with the poignant comment, “It’s as though men and women are treated differently?” Bingo.
My jaw dropped to the floor with Stewart’s next example about women being “too emotional.” You’ll have to watch for yourself, but in a nutshell, Senator Diane Feinstein, 22-year Senate Veteran and Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a new report about CIA’s Bush Era Torture Program, in which the committee found that the CIAs programs were far more brutal and widespread than had been reported and that the CIA had overstated torture’s effectiveness. In order to combat the reports findings, the former head of the NSA, Michael Hayden, chose to attack Senator Feinstein’s “emotional feelings.” According to Hayden, “The motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on part of the Senator, I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.” Yes, you read it right; Hayden chose to defend his agencies use of torture by arguing that the information in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report was unreliable because Senator Feinstein was under emotional distress!
Stewart then goes on to show how men’s emotions are often praised. News anchors commented that “It talks a lot more courage for a politician to cry on television than it does to be tough,” and “That’s a man’s man, who gets chocked up about his country and about the issues he feels passionate about, all of a sudden feeling passionate about America and the hopes for his fellow Americans is something evil.” Men should be encouraged to show their emotions, and so should women. Male and female politicians remain subject to different standards, perpetuating the sexist view that women are too emotional and unpredictable to hold public office. Pardon the language, but Stewart comes to a proper conclusion that “In politics, it’s ok to be a pussy, as long as you’ve got a dick.” This needs to change.
I appreciate this episode’s comical depiction of the stark double standard and that it was done on such a big stage. We need more men standing up for women and calling out the disparity, just like Jon Stewart and Adam Grant. We need our news anchors to change the dialogue and be fair to women politicians. We need to watch television with a critical eye so that we can keep our media accountable for the unfair spin. And we need more women in politics.