Bill O’Reilly’s segment from last Wednesday — the one in which he asks Kirsten Powers and Kate Obenshain to expound on some mysterious quality that makes women somehow less qualified than men to be president — has to be the most awkward moment of television.
I sympathize with the urge to respond to the clip with mockery. But sometimes a glimmer of truth can be found even in the tawdriest of settings — and it’s Powers who deserves credit for uttering it here. Wracking her brain for something to say in response to O’Reilly’s flippantly sexist provocation, Powers volunteers that a female president might be more easily goaded than a male president into military muscle-flexing as a way of demonstrating her toughness.
I like this comment not only because it undercuts O’Reilly’s smarmy insinuation that a woman would be too weak to stand toe-t-toe with macho tough guys like Vladimir Putin. I also like it because it may well be true.
The fact is — however unfair, however much it pains us to admit it — in some areas, men and women are not equal. Is it worth checking a box marked “Equality” at the expense of the operational effectiveness of combat units? Is it worth putting young men at risk so that we, the enlightened Western liberals, might have a new accomplishment to discuss over gougères at cocktail parties? This week, the Obama administration says, yes, that’s perfectly okay. Accordingly, a platoon can and will be less combat effective in the name of equality.
These women and their hormones! I’m alarmed that they can find their way to their binders in the morning. I would go on, but I have to go turn into a werewolf now. That is what women do, yes? It is so weird that we can hold jobs and own property… I sure hope the election falls at a time of the month when I feel unattractive, so that I don’t have to worry: Did I really want to vote for Gary Johnson? Maybe I just wanted to eat a lot of chocolate. Shoes! Slim leg! Cathy! Pinterest!
—Alexandra Petri,The Washington Post