Stop calling women in politics 'emotional'

April 5, 2019

Stop calling women in politics 'emotional'


Nancy Kaffer,

I really wasn't sure whether I should write this column.

On the one hand, you could call it thin: Talking about a decision made by Michigan's governor to halt work on a controversial pipeline on Wednesday's "Frank Beckmann Show" on Detroit's WJR-AM 760 (Hi, Frank!) Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said that decisions about the Great Lakes should be based in "in sound science ... we can’t be driven purely by emotion."

On the other hand: There's a long and tiresome history of men calling women "emotional" in order to undermine our decisions and discredit our leadership, and when it happens, it's important to call it out, not least because publicly framing a woman's choices as emotional rather than rational or reasoned works. Women, particularly female politicians, successfully cast as "emotional" often find it difficult to shed the label, researchers say.

So that's a problem.

Here's what happened: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats and both, you know, women, made no bones about their opposition to Line 5 during last year's campaigns. The aging pipeline runs through the Straits of Mackinac, and has become the target of environmental concerns because it's not in great shape, its location means that any spill or leak could imperil large swathes of the Great Lakes, and because it's owned by Canadian energy company Enbridge, a company with a terrible track record of transparency and environmental safety. 

Click here to read the full article published by Detroit Free Press on 4 April 2019.

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