Sexist Lessons From the Campaign Trail

It's been a banner time for sexism on the presidential hustings. Just a month ago, we had the John McCain supporter in South Carolina asking her hero, "How do we beat the bitch?" in reference to Senator Hillary Clinton. Senator McCain laughed, showing his good-natured appreciation for comparing women to animals. He might also be amused to know that chicks, foxes, dogs and pigs are in the same lexicon, the one aimed at keeping women down by dehumanizing them.

More recently, we learned that Governor Mike Huckabee subscribes to the Southern Baptist Convention's position that women should "submit graciously" to their husbands. Last week, MSNBC talk show host Tucker Carlson found the utility of this idea worth some elbow-in-the-rib joking. Putting all those manly yucks aside, pundits might have noted that gracious submission is the flip-side of bitch-dom (see McCain above.) For women, there's just no in between, which brings us to Senator Fred Thompson.

When Thompson, along with the other candidates, was asked about his favorite possession, his answer to the Associated Press was his "trophy wife" Jeri. Senator John McCain prized his baseball signed by Ted Williams. For Rudy Guiliani, the answer was his grandfather's pocket watch. But Thompson possessed the notably young and attractive Jeri-prize. If women are turned into objects no one has to worry about them being bitches or submitting with insufficient grace to their husbands -- or, for that matter, becoming president.