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July 12 2018

Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination offers a chance to fight sexism against all women

via Washington Examiner
by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is President Trump's nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice. As a public servant who has been committed to faithfully interpreting the Constitution as written, he is an admirable choice. Kavanaugh also appears to be a caring dad who loves his daughters. The Supreme Court will benefit from his experience and jurisprudence, along with his humanity and kindness.

Before Monday night’s announcement, Kavanaugh joined three other qualified candidates on President Trump’s shortlist, one of which was Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The media and the Left were quick to pounce on all of the nominees, but Barrett particularly became the target of baseless personal attacks on her faith.

One personal attack against Barrett took it a step farther. CNN’s Chris Cillizza opined that what qualified Barrett for the job in President’s Trump’s eyes were her looks.

In his SCOTUS pick scorecard, Cillizza laid out Barrett’s qualifications: 1.) A woman. 2.) A mother of seven. 3.) Young (in her mid-40s). 4.) A person of faith. And 5.) Reliably conservative, particularly on social issues.

According to Cillizza, optics are what matters. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Not only did Cillizza strike out on whom President Trump would nominate, but his analysis of Barrett was also narrow-minded and sexist.

Barrett would have brought much to the bench. She was recommended to the 7th Circuit by 450 of her former students and all 49 of her colleagues at Notre Dame Law School. She has written against Catholic judges trying to “align our legal system” with the moral teachings of their faith, which ought to head off fears about her future rulings on issues such as abortion being dictated by her faith.

Barrett isn’t alone in facing unfair attacks meant to discredit her.

Conservative woman in the public eye often face baseless, sexist, racist, and personal attacks that go on unchallenged by traditional defenders of women and women’s rights. Mocking, degrading, or dismissing their appearances and credentials are tactics to delegitimize women and distract from their ideas.

Women in the Trump administration have endured constant, vicious attacks that would not be tolerated under other administrations. Melania Trump’s accent was the subject of late-night jokes. Ivanka Trump was called a “feckless c--t.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders was called a “butch queen” and a “chunky soccer mom.” A Democratic congressman made a vile sexual joke about Kellyanne Conway kneeling on an Oval Office sofa. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was accused of embracing the rumors of an affair with the president to get her job.

Just being in the conservative orbit opens women up to unfair attacks. Following a presidential debate, hosts on "The View" said Carly Fiorina’s face looked “demented” and like a “Halloween mask.”

The list goes on. And there are countless women in state and local politics who face similar attacks, but whose stories go untold. Sadly, many conservative women assume that these kinds of insults are just par for the course of public service.

Women on the Left get attacked as well. For example, Michelle Obama’s derriere and Chelsea Clinton’s looks.

The difference has been that women’s magazines, legacy media, and progressive leaders come to their defense. Often, there are just crickets for women on the Right.

It’s time for this to change. As society grapples with the mistreatment of women as exposed by the #MeToo movement, we cannot neglect how all women are objectified and the impacts of such objectification.

The Name It Change It Project found that the electability of women falls as coverage of their appearance rises. This coverage damages favorability on measures such as being in touch, likeable, confident, effective, and qualified.

Increasing numbers of women are running for office, and if we want this trend to continue, we need to ensure that they are treated equally and fairly. We can and should have vigorous debates in politics, but must reject the objectification of women.

This is not just limited to women in politics. This is about civility for all women.

No woman (whether she is a student, a mom, a businessperson, or a public official) should be silenced, ignored, or intimidated because of her political perspective.

Incivility takes a toll on women’s well-being. Research on workplace incivility finds that women who experience increased incivility from their female coworkers report lower job satisfaction and psychological vitality as well as and increased work withdrawal.

Focusing on a woman’s gender, appearance, looks, age, size, clothing, make-up, and mothering is harmful, inexcusable, and intolerable.

It’s time to do something about this problem.

The Independent Women’s Voice has launched Champion Women to expose the objectification of and incivility toward women of all political views as well hold offenders accountable.

By encouraging forums for more open, civil, and respectful dialogue, we can create a society where all women’s views are welcomed, where women and men are treated with respect, and where women can share their views free of personal attacks.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s daughters will now step into the limelight and, sadly, may become the target of mistreatment from strangers for nothing more than their parents' political opinions.

If we want a better world for these and all girls, women from the Left, Right, and center must come together to change the environment.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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