Conservative women are decrying a double standard among many feminists, who have loudly defended liberals and Democrats against perceived misogyny but have been mute about insults and barbs slung at women of Republican or conservative stripes.
“Spewing vitriol at conservative women is sport in the elite media, Hollywood, academia and the leftist cocktail party circuit,” said Amy Cooke, executive vice president of the Independence Institute, a Denver-based free market think tank.
Michelle Balch Lyng, CEO and president of Novitas Communications, said feminism’s double standard has been most apparent with regard to Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s first female governor who now serves as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “Sons of Anarchy” leading man Ron Perlman on Twitter, and late-night TV hosts James Corden and Stephen Colbert in a skit on the Grammy Awards show, have mocked Mrs. Haley about unproven claims of an affair with President Trump.
“Haley is a great role model for young women and, frankly, all women, unless you believe that women, in order to be valued, must subscribe to a specific viewpoint,” said Mrs. Lyng, whose firm produces political and business messages. “The left would never tolerate the same abuse of a liberal woman, nor should they, but they also should never tolerate this treatment when it’s directed at conservative women.”
Conservative women have noted how feminists went to war with anyone who attacked Hillary Clinton in any way that hinted at misogyny during the 2016 presidential campaign. They also have cited feminists’ ire over Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, being silenced by Republican senators last year in accordance with Senate rules.
Recent examples of feminists’ deafening silence over attacks on non-liberals abound, conservatives say:
⦁ Mr. Perlman on Twitter also has attacked first lady Melania Trump as a “pig” and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders as “crap.”
⦁ Actors Michael Rapaport and David Alan Grier used explicit sexual comments to denigrate conservative pundit Laura Ingraham for her “shut up and dribble” remark about Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James after his criticism of Mr. Trump.
⦁ Comedy Central star Jim Jefferies last year used his late-night show to satirize the first lady in a skit that called her “wooden” and “dirty.”
⦁ This month, comic actor Jim Carrey painted and posted an unflattering portrait of Mrs. Sanders, that appeared to mock her appearance.
⦁ HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver produced a parody of a book written by Mike Pence’s daughter, Charlotte Pence, and second lady Karen Pence, a project whose proceeds benefit charities dealing with human trafficking and cancer treatment.
And the reaction from avowed feminists?
The National Organization for Women did not respond to requests for comment.
A representative for the American Association of University Women, which strives to improve equity for women, said that as a nonpartisan organization it would be inappropriate to comment.
“I view feminism as women’s right to have their own opinion, their own achievements and their own ambitions,” Mrs. Lyng said. “Most women I know are a mixed bag on issues, so it’s offensive to me when one party claims to speak on behalf of women.”
Joy Pullmann, executive editor of the conservative news and opinion website The Federalist, said the feminist double standard is a common topic among her right-leaning peers. The change in White House occupants has made the double standard more profound, she said.
“When you have people saying you can’t talk about family when it’s the Obama family and then [we see] the attacks on Melania or the Trump kids,” Mrs. Pullmann said.
Mr. Trump’s ascendency rocked the culture in many ways, but what conservatives see as a double standard with regard to Republican women existed before the real estate mogul became commander in chief, she added.
“It’s not just the Trump phenomena, although people seem to be extra unhinged [since his presidency began],” she said.
Feminists and liberal media outlets rarely rushed to the defense of conservative women such as Condoleezza Rice and Carly Fiorina as they have with Mrs. Clinton and her Democratic peers, Mrs. Pullmann said.
Mrs. Cooke of Denver’s Independence Institute said the double standard is having an impact on how she interacts with others, particularly on gun issues.
“I had a woman walk up to me and call me a murderer. She doesn’t know me, but that is what she thinks of me and isn’t ashamed of labeling me that in front of dozens of children and young adults,” Mrs. Cooke said of a recent appearance she made at an event on ending gun violence.
“Unfortunately, in today’s political environment, those kinds of comments are getting more and more commonplace,” she added.
She said the latest attacks on Republican and conservative women can be traced to the rise of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her vice presidential candidacy in 2008.
“I had never seen a woman in politics so consistently battered and abused for being a conservative. Worse, it was open season on the Palin children because Hollywood, especially comedians, didn’t like their mom,” Mrs. Cooke said.
Mrs. Pullmann said there is one positive in a hostile political climate for her like-minded peers.
“You expect it and move on. … It helps make women on the right smarter and tougher,” she said.
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