Sexist (and stupid) quote of the day

During MSNBC’s post-Democratic presidential debate analysis this week, Chris Matthews asked Sen. Chris Dodd: “Do you find it difficult to debate a woman?â€?
You know, because vaginas have special debate-blocking powers.
Thanks to Teresa for the link.

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  • kwantam

    I’m interested in his answer. The question may (does!) imply something about the questioner, but that doesn’t reduce its value as a litmus test.

  • tps12

    No, it’s a good question. Lots of us rely on the rebuttal technique known as the “swift kick to the nads.” Far less effective against a female opponent.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, be fair to Chris Matthews. It can be really hard to talk to women when you can’t stop staring at their boobs. Boobs don’t talk, you know.

  • lindabeth

    This is a really terrific analytical blog piece about Matthew’s sexism on that particular Hardball show. Within the blog are links to previous blogs he’s done on Chris Matthew’s sexism as well. Good reading!

  • lindabeth

    This is a really terrific analytical blog piece about Matthew’s sexism on that particular Hardball show. Within the blog are links to previous blogs he’s done on Chris Matthew’s sexism as well. Good reading!

  • Ashley

    “vaginas have special debate-blocking powers.”
    “swift kick to the nads. – Far less effective against a female opponent”
    Does anyone not understand that Matthews was referring to the awkwardness of going for the throat and completely dismantling your opponent, when she happens to be a woman? I can’t tell if you’re being deliberately obtuse or accidentally so.

  • Kimmy

    Because…..why, Ashley? Because women are too delicate for the rough-and-tumble world of politics? Because women will cry if anyone says anything nasty to them? Because they’re incapable of dishing out as much as they receive? What possible explanation could you put in here that would make Matthews’s question any less stupid or sexist? Because so far I can’t come up with a one.

  • FEMily!

    Chris Matthews has been talking about this issue for a while. On his show this past Sunday (or this might have been before the debate), he asked this question to his panel, in the context that perhaps some of the other candidates are afraid of challenging Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to hurt a woman’s feelings. He was saying that the other candidates might think a woman, even one running for president, can’t handle tough questions. I can’t say for sure that he intends the same meaning in this case, but I have a suspicion that he does. In any case, I think it’s a legit question. I want to know what the other candidates think about women leaders.

  • Anonymous

    Chris Matthews is not trying to call candidates out, he’s trying to get the reassurance that the think like he does. He has an outrageously strong history of being a sexist ass to all of the women who come on his show and all of the women he talks about on it. And so far, I don’t think that any of the Dems have shown any more restraint regarding Clinton than they do towards their other opponents. In fact, I think that Clinton gets it the worst up on that stage– and probably legitimately so, since she is the front runner.

  • Shadowen

    As Ashley and FEMily! said, it’s still a valid question, regardless of the questioner.
    Let’s retreat to geekdom, because that’s where the best analogies are drawn. Remember that scene in Batman Returns where Batman smacks Catwoman and she says, “How could you? I’m a woman!” And, briefly switching his brain off, Batman says “I’m sorry”, goes to help her up, and she kicks him in the head.
    I doubt Clinton is actively using this as a tactic, but it might be that opponents are subconsciously of the attitude that they should go easy. Others might even be consciously of the attitude that they should go easy on her because they fear backlash of the “How can they all pick on the woman like that?” sort.
    (DISCLAIMER: I am not not not saying this is the way it should be, but this may be the way it is.)
    If this is so, I think Clinton will win the nomination. After all, if you don’t all pick on the leader, you’re never going to pull them back enough to get ahead yourself. Whatever gains you make are neutralized, because no one else is picking on the leader, either, just on each other.
    (This pretty much only applies to debates, mind. I expect, once she gets the nomination, the ads against her will be more vicious than anything Bush or Kerry faced, and I can only hope Clinton fights back. And I must admit a little backlash against ads that are probably going to be skirting the line of misogynistic wouldn’t hurt.)
    But yes, Cara, Matthews is a sexist with a condescending attitude towards women on his show (and elsewhere, for that matter).

  • Ninapendamaishi

    Well personally, I think the history of politics (calling Chelsea clinton ugly), calling Hillary a ballbreaker, etc. shows women /do/ get hit in the nads. Maybe not so much by competitors in the primaries, but then again I think most of the candidates try to be cordial to each other, at least on t.v.

  • UCLAbodyimage

    “Do you find it difficult to debate a woman?”
    Definitely sometimes, especially if she is:
    A) smarter than me
    B) knows more about the topic
    C) Has more people in the group that agree with her already.
    Of course, the same is true if you replace she/her with he/him.
    I don’t see his point. Fighting a woman (which many guys would have a problem with) is very different than debating a woman (which doesn’t seem like a problem).

  • Andrea

    Ha! Totally agree with Cara and UCLA. I was the captain of the UCLA debate team in college. I met my husband…in a debate round. You might find it difficult to debate me because I was pretty good :)
    I thought it was smart of Dodd to quickly say “Not at all” and then move on.

  • Phlegmatic

    Well Id say at least its still a useful question in pointing out inadequacies in certain male debaters who would answer “yes”. Im not going to rule out the possibility, but I highly doubt any woman would ever hold back to spare the feelings of a male opponent. And UCLA, though I was taught as a child not to hit girls back (I was taught not to hit anyone unless they hit me first) I doubt I would feel that way now. Though I have never really been in a situation where I would need to (apart from once as a child) I always figured dropping that way of thinking was going toward treating women like equals. (This is a genuine question by the way, not me trying to start an argument or anything*)

  • ponies and rainbows

    Wait, what? People are more concerned about hurting women’s feelings? Show me these people. Are they the rapists of the world? The guys who shut down feminist and female-run blogs, who threaten and stalk the women who run them? Are they the guys who drove by me the other day and called me a whore? The guy who asked me if I was wearing any underwear the other day? Wait, I know! It’s the stranger on the street who grabbed my arm so hard in a market in broad daylight that it left bruises. Or maybe the guy who grabbed my ass as I was walking down the street in Australia is nicer to women…But then, there’s also the American guys in a German club who started shoving me and my friend when we didn’t want to dance with them. What about the people who mugged me? Or my dad when he beat me up but not my brother when I was little, and who called me a snotheaded bitch for the first time when I was 11? Or maybe it’s the entire English language that’s more concerned about women’s feelings, with over 200 terms used to denigrate women, and only about 20 for men.
    My point is, are we honestly going to rely on conventional wisdom for our facts, or are we going to actually LOOK at how badly women are treated in the world when deciding whether political candidates are likely to “go easier” on women? Because we all know damn well that we have to be better, smarter and tougher than men to get as far as they do, and acting like anybody anywhere has ever “gone soft” on a woman because of her gender is pure bull. Oh, and I’m sorry, but examples from movies don’t count. I’ve been beaten up enough in my life to know that my gender sure as hell doesn’t make anybody less likely to beat me up — if anything, it makes people more likely to beat me up. All the Batman example means is that some scriptwriter thought it would be funny, not that women actually get out of being beaten up by pointing out that they’re women.

  • DrkEyedCajn

    If vaginas ACTUALLY had special debate-blocking powers… man, that would be so cool. I mean, that would make everything I say right, right? No one could argue back!
    Can I get some of those for mine???

  • Destra

    The question is a very pertinent one. The male politicians might have issues and problems when dealing with women in politics. Whether or not these issues are sexist, it’s the journalist’s job to find them out. I’d like to know if the man is a bigot when it comes to women. The question should be asked.
    There’s also an even more legit way to look at the question: unfortunately, many people in America do view female politicians in a different light than their male counterparts. And every person running for office needs to be aware of how they appear to those who will be voting for them. So if a good portion of America is going to tsk you for being rough on the poor delicate woman, you need to be aware of it and possibly avoid it. It blows, but it’s politics.
    Should we ignore these realities just because we don’t like that they exist?