The White Guy’s Playbook For Discounting Women

This article is a superb example of how women are excluded from, well, anything important. I’ve seen a number of similar examples lately. The actions are so similar that I’ve wondered if there’s a playbook that white guys are sharing around.

1. Start with an impossible goal. Dwight Eisenhower sent Dick Nixon on a 68-day around-the-world tour. The author recognizes that this would be impossible for any president and vice president today, but it’s too bad that Kamala Harris can’t get an education like this.

2. Minimize what she is doing. Here’s the minimization:

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was a first-term senator from California before entering the White House, hasn’t been given the sort of immersive experiences or sustained, high-profile tasks that would deepen and broaden her expertise in ways Americans could see and appreciate. 

Here’s the experience, in the same paragraph, with required and evidenceless minimization. The author does this with a straight face.

But over the last 18 months, her on-the-job training in governing has largely involved intractable issues like migration and voting rights where she has not shown demonstrable growth in leadership, and hit-or-miss trips overseas like the troubled foray in Central America a year ago and the more successful delegation to meet with the United Arab Emirates’ new president, leading a team that included Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

3. Adduce negative evidence uncritically. Politico? Really?

Recently she has energetically undertaken her “How Dare They” tour, as a Politico headline described her trips attacking Republicans on abortion rights after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade — but this work only underscores the narrowness of her political role.

4. Draw conclusions from this biased selection.

That Ms. Harris has been stuck in a political role is troubling for anyone concerned about the stability and continuity of the executive branch.

5. Add in some irrelevant stuff.

A penumbra of frailty has shadowed the modern presidency.

6. Show that you have no ax to grind. Extra points for condescension.

Ms. Harris is not to blame for her relative paucity of national and international experience: she had been in the Senate less than four years when Mr. Biden selected her, and he did so knowing that she had never served in an executive role. 

She has also faced double standards in how she is seen and judged, as many women and people of color are, including when they are “firsts” in jobs.

7. But it’s really about the man in the situation.

With the government itself under siege from a new class of enemies within, and with more than two years to go until the next presidential election, Mr. Biden must not only find a way to infuse his party with enthusiasm and fresh purpose, but fulfill an urgent obligation — to his party and the nation — to hasten, and advance, the education, and authority, of his vice president.

There is one error in this otherwise flawless example of how to take down a woman of color. This sentence is structured too much like New York Times Pitchbot’s parodies. That is balanced by using an ugly photo.

That’s also bad news for Ms. Harris, whose poor performance as a presidential candidate, in 2019, led her to drop out before the Iowa caucuses. 

This pattern shows up again and again and again. Impossible standards, elevating nitpicking, and inability to take what a woman does seriously.  Like fish and water, men who evaluate women’s achievements remain unaware of that framework. They believe and will insist that they are objective observers.

Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money