Once Again, From the Top | Vol. 5 / No. 8.2

Sometimes, being a feminist blogger feels like living through Groundhog Day. Only instead of learning how to play the piano or stalking a woman, you’re having the same arguments over, and over, and over again. This week’s argument on repeat? Being criticized for being a woman is different from being criticized while being a woman. I have literally written about this four times already.

But now I get to write about it again, because Susan Collins.

Senator Susan Collins was briefly a voice of sanity in an unruly field of crazy, when she, Senator Barbara Murkowski, and Senator John McCain all voted against the ACA repeal. Of course, Murkowski and Collins were against it longer, more strenuously, and with less attention than McCain. But now that she has stopped being a voice of sanity and has instead made some pretty idiotic deals that are not going to be followed through on in exchange for her soul vote on the disastrous tax bill and people are criticizing her, she has accused people of sexism. Her exact words:

“I believe that the coverage has been unbelievably sexist, and I cannot believe that the press would have treated another senator with 20 years of experience as they have treated me,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “They’ve ignored everything that I’ve gotten and written story after story about how I’m duped. How am I duped when all your amendments get accepted?”

…. Let’s take this from the top.

Now, there are a few conditions under which Collin’s statements could be at least partially correct. (Not wholly; never wholly.) Women are often criticized more often, and more viciously, than their male counterparts for the same actions. Collins already faced some sexism when her contributions to saving the ACA were set aside in favor of celebrating McCain’s 11th-hour about face. It is ostensibly possible that Collins would be facing worse criticism for her hypocrisy than a male Senator in the same position would be.

But in this case, Bob Corker is facing similar criticism for reversing his position on the tax bill. Both made a lot of noise about their ability to stand firm in the face of bad bills, and both crumpled like tissue paper. And the core facts of the problem remain: Collins appears to have been duped. It isn’t sexist to state facts.

Jennifer Rubin explains the issue:

What she got was a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass two partial offsets that would mitigate some of the harm done by repeal of the individual mandate. She also at the time stated that she’d have a vote on those bills in hand before voting for the tax bill. She doesn’t have that promised vote and likely won’t get the bills through the House (which objects to anything shoring up Obamacare). Collins nevertheless will vote for a bill that included repeal of the individual mandate without receiving any offset. Her vote in that regard is no different from that of other Republicans who vowed to rip up Obamacare root and branch. Her constituents and local media are understandably very upset with her.

So to rephrase, Collin demanded some concessions in exchange for her vote on a bad bill. She didn’t actually get those concessions, and is unlikely to do so. But she is still going to vote for a bill that is going to harm her constituents, and wants this vote to be seen as strong horse trading, because she demanded those concessions that aren’t going to come to fruition. She’s traded her vote for nothing but empty promises, and hurt her constituents in the process. Which is, you know… kinda stupid.

As far as I can tell, Collins is getting the exact same criticism that she would have gotten if she was a man. She had principles, and then she traded them in and got nothing in return. That’s a bad move, and people are understandably pissed. Calling the criticism sexist is trying to detract from its validity, and trying to redirect attention to her gender instead of her lack of morals.

She’s being criticized while being a woman, not for being a woman. Don’t let her tell you otherwise.

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Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not trying to explain over and over that women can do deeply unpopular things and that criticizing them for that really, really isn’t antifeminist, she studies gender in popular culture.

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