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Gen. Kelly, women should be seen as equal, not 'sacred'

Ruth Marcus on

Even if you accept the president's claim that this was mere locker-room talk, even if there wasn't a bounty of other similarly disgusting and objectifying remarks, even if you discount the dozen or so women who came forward in 2016 to claim that Trump assaulted them -- why raise this subject? This conduct is unacceptable regardless of party affiliation, whether the alleged perpetrator is Weinstein or Trump or, yes, Bill Clinton. Selective outrage is unbecoming.

Yet there is a more disturbing aspect of Kelly's remarks that risks getting lost in the outrage-du-jour news cycle that is the Trump administration. Kelly, I'm sure, intended his comment about women to be respectful, not dismissive.

But, speaking for this woman at least, that is not what women want or need. To be put on a pedestal also risks being kept in a box. In the good old days that Kelly mourns, women were not so much elevated by gender as constrained by it. Imagine how Kelly's remarks sound to the female service member struggling to prove herself in the male-dominated military culture.

If the upside of chivalry is the opened door, the cape spread upon the muddy ground, the downside is the presumption, perhaps subconscious, that feminine is the equivalent of weak; the impulse to treat women in the workplace differently from their male counterparts; and the consequent distortion -- sometimes overt, more often subtle -- of career choices and opportunities.

Forget sacred. I'll take equal.

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Ruth Marcus' email address is ruthmarcus@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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