Nothing good ever comes after the words “Not to be sexist, but…” What follows is inevitably some terrible sexist dreck, and this, from the rapper/producer T.I., is no exception:
“Not to be sexist but, I can’t vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman…It’s kinda like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally – they make very permanent, cemented decisions – and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen. And I sure would hate to just set off a nuke. [Other leaders] will not be able to negotiate the right kinds of foreign policy; the world ain’t ready yet. I think you might be able to the Loch Ness Monster elected before you could [get a woman].”
This line of thinking–that women are overly emotional and therefore couldn’t let cooler heads prevail in times of crisis–has kept women out of positions of power for millennia. And how has that been working? As far as I can tell, every ill-advised war has been started by a man or a group of men. Almost every bomb that has been dropped, sent, or hurled, was done so at the behest of a man. Let’s think about what T.I. means when he says that he “sure would hate to just set off a nuke” if a woman were in charge. Are women all just one PMSy day away from a Cathy cartoon? If you don’t give us our chocolate, will we yell “Ack! Ack! Ack!” and enter the nuclear code out of an abundance of emotion? (Not to mention that T.I., a convicted felon, may not even be able to vote.)
What T.I. said wouldn’t be so harmful if it weren’t an attitude that was shared by many other people. Cheryl Rios, a Dallas-based CEO, made headlines in April for saying that women shouldn’t become President:
[W]ith the hormones we have there is no way we should be able to start a war,” she wrote on her Facebook page. Rios also cited an “old sound biblical reason” for not wanting a woman to lead the country. In 2012, one of Rick Santorum’s staffers sent an email questioning whether God’s “biblically expressed will” could be fulfilled by a woman in the office President. John Piper, the pastor and theologian, doesn’t want to legally ban women from running for President but certainly doesn’t think it’s a good thing.
I’m glad we live in a world where this kind of attitude is subject to criticism and occasional mocking. The misogyny of hip-hop and Christianity, though, continue to go hand-in-hand in insisting that a woman’s role is to be at home, with children, somewhere her emotions can’t get her, or the world, in trouble. It’s cultural nostalgia for 1950s-era domestic life disguised as religion or swagger.