As the first month of the new year draws to a close, one of the things we can be sure of is that sexism remains rampant. Certainly, there are frivolous charges of sexism. Back in the Fall, Hillary Clinton decided to accuse Bernie Sanders of sexism for telling her that “all the shouting in the world” will not help in the gun control debate. The little detail that Sanders had made similar comments in a CNN interview in August when he was not addressing Clinton was conveniently ignored. As was the fact that New York’s rate of murder-by-firearms was nine times higher than Vermont’s in 2014 despite (or maybe partly because of) New York having some of the strictest state gun laws and Vermont having some of the most permissive. But these false accusations should not take attention away from the countless real examples of sexism. I wanted to bring attention to two examples on my blog. Interestingly, they both involve women and clothing. This is not really surprising, since one of the longstanding manifestations of sexism is an obsession with women’s wardrobes. The first example comes from a Republican state legislator in Kansas. According to FoxNews.com, not exactly a liberal feminist outlet, “A Kansas lawmaker came under fire from female legislators Thursday after he imposed a dress code that prevents women testifying on bills from wearing low-cut necklines and miniskirts.
Republican state Sen. Mitch Holmes issued an 11-point code of conduct to guide women on how to dress. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Holmes’ rules don’t include any restrictions on men because, according to Holmes, men don’t need instructions on how to look professional.” This disgusting behavior by Holmes is the very definition of sexism. He is shamelessly applying restrictions to women while exempting men. One-sided restrictions based on gender are, like the fixation with what women wear, a longstanding manifestation of sexism. According to the Old Testament, women in ancient Israel were to be executed for cheating on their husbands, but men were not be executed for cheating on their wives unless their mistresses were also married. For ages, men in certain societies have been allowed to take multiple wives, while women have been limited to one husband. This rule still applies in mainstream Islam. But let’s put that analogy aside. The bottom line is this: dress codes are silly, but gender-based double standards are repugnant.
The second example makes me very resentful toward certain liberals. And the reason that I am resentful toward them is that they have forced me to do something that I really hate to do: stand up for Sarah Palin. Let me be clear. Palin is a homophobe. She has said and done a lot of stuff that richly deserves ridicule. Her endorsement of Donald Trump should certainly be ridiculed. Unfortunately, some liberals were interested in making fun of the jacket that she was wearing during her endorsement speech. Not everyone who made fun of her jacket is sexist. But it is very disquieting that the wardrobes of male political figures seem to get made fun of so much less. One of the few exceptions to this proves the rule. Marco Rubio was recently made fun of wearing high-heeled shoes. Again, I really hate to stand up for Rubio. He has a very ugly but largely forgotten record of homophobia, and it is hard to see how he would be much less horrendous of a president than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. But the mockery of him for wearing high-heeled boots seems to lie largely in the alleged spectacle of a man wearing shoes that resemble “women’s” shoes. Liberals should also be aware of the fact that for female public figures, the issue of what to wear can be a no-win situation. Whether a woman wears pantsuits like Hillary Clinton or a sparkly jacket like Sarah Palin, they are liable to get pilloried for it. This behavior needs to end first and foremost because it is discriminatory. But it also needs to stop, because it gives off the impression that people can’t find anything to criticize about Palin or Clinton besides what they wear. There’s plenty to criticize about both of them, just like there’s plenty to criticize about Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and even my beloved Bernie Sanders. Let’s focus on those justifiable points of criticism and not the way they dress themselves.