Updated: Jan 6, 2020
On basketball courts across the United States there is a custom among ball players, that when one of them throws a bad pass, commits a foul or shoots a wild shot, they state firmly so everyone can hear, "My bad." Of all the things about growing up in America, this is one of the best – a simple, clear and human statement of taking responsibility. It is character-building at its core, and though disappointed in the mistake, the team respects the person taking responsibility.
In the past couple of weeks, Amy Klobuchar has derided front runner, Pete Buttigieg, by suggesting, in her smarmy Minnesota passive-aggressive way, that were he a woman he would never have qualified to be on stage with the other candidates for president. There is something inherently wrong about anyone who criticizes someone who is besting them, but I hold a special place of contempt in my heart for a woman who is unwilling to take responsibility for her own failures.
I am not suggesting there is not sexism in America. There is. There is also racism, homophobia, mental and physical disabilities, socioeconomic disadvantages, bad personalities, ethical boundaries or lack of them, favoritism, laziness, less than attractive features and a host of other advantages and disadvantages that mash together to influence people either positively or negatively. It’s called adversity, and we all have to play with the pieces we draw.
One thing that is positively clear is that it is almost impossible to guess what the American people will like or dislike on any given day. Pete Buttigieg may flame out next week for the same reasons he’s on top today. But, one thing I’m fairly certain of is that Amy Klobachar won’t ever be on top. Maybe it was the way she cross-examined Brett Kavanaugh, or maybe it was one of the several articles explaining how she mistreated her staff, or maybe it’s the cold and detached way she meets people on the campaign trail. I’m not sure, but I am sure, she’s damn lucky she’s been able to stay on that stage as long as she has.
And, did anyone tell her that Pete is gay? Near as I recall, that was always a lot tougher to overcome with the electorate than sexism. What about the fact that Elizabeth Warren is right on the edge of taking this primary? What about the fact that Hillary Clinton did take it the last time around? And, what about the stunning fact that across the stage this is the most beautifully diverse primary in American history? Did she just not think this through?
Look, here’s the truth. Sexism is part of our culture. It’s complicated. It’s much better than it was, but it is still part of our fight. We’re in a realm now where all those isms that have held us down for so long are not nearly as formidable as they once were, and women who continue to complain are not helping the cause. Instead of perpetuating the old story that women aren’t allowed to be angry or tough with their subordinates, or they’re deemed to be unlikable, need to start considering the possibility they’re just not likeable.
Girls have something to learn on the school playground too. If we’re going to play on the same court as the boys, we need to have game and recognize that excuses don’t fly. Character and responsibility are important no matter whose team you play on.