Those ‘uppity women’ who speak their
Commentary by Pat Murphy
The timing of potshots by Republican and
Democratic figures offer dramatic examples of how men are regarded as manly and
women are belittled as uppity when speaking their minds.
Teresa Heinz Kerry put spice into the
Democratic convention by blurting at a pestering newspaper reporter, "Shove it!"
"Arrogant. Impolite," growled CNN’s
predictable and loopy Robert Novak, the Republican shill who exposed CIA
operative Valerie Plame at the behest of someone in the White House as revenge
for her husband’s criticisms.
CNN quickly dug out a 2000 campaign
videotape of George W. Bush pointing to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer in a
campaign audience and caught on an open mike calling him an "a-- h---," while
jolly veep running mate Dick Cheney agreed, "Big time!"
Novak dismissed the Bush-Cheney vulgarity
as a private remark between a couple of real guys, just as he shrugged off
Cheney’s "F - - - yourself!" outburst at U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy as pent-up
manly frustration, but certainly not "impolite" or "arrogant."
Obviously, some men long in the tooth
still haven’t gotten over women winning the vote 84 years ago and freed from
walking two steps behind men.
The double standard accorded Teresa Heinz
Kerry isn’t rare. Both Republican and Democratic women in recent history have
been targets of derision and condescension.
The mere sight of Hillary Clinton causes
grown men and some "proper" women to sputter in rage—and collapse into frenzied
apoplexy when mentioned as a possible future president.
For a sharp tongue and acid retort,
Barbara Bush, mother of this president, is feared by family and foe.
Nancy Reagan endured wagging tongues
throughout her husband’s presidency for her regal ways and undue influence.
Three women in Jimmy Carter’s presidency
created controversy—his peppery, oft-quoted mother, Miss Lillian, his activist
wife, Roslynn, and bookish prodigy daughter, Amy.
The Camelot White House’s Jackie Kennedy
was the dream of gossip columnists and fashion editors. Lady Bird Johnson was
busy championing new environmental laws before it was fashionable.
Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower and Bess
Truman were less visible and more traditional, as is Laura Bush, the demure
current First Lady.
Betty Ford created gasps when she went
public with her chemical addiction.
For controversy, however, none match
Eleanor Roosevelt—her newspaper column, "My Day," her World War II global trips,
her outspoken support of internationalism, her crusade for women’s rights and
racial equality when both were distant hopes—she was an enduring irritant.
Teresa Heinz Kerry is but the latest
strong, accomplished woman resented for self-reliance and independent thinking.
If a man spoke five languages, had won the
Albert Schweitzer gold medal for humanitarianism, had campaigned against African
apartheid, had been a United Nations translator and managed a $500 million
foundation, imagine the public esteem and his bright political future.
Those are Ms. Kerry’s credentials. But her
refusal to be pushed around is dismissed by an intellectual troglodyte as