Do we all struggle with our internalized misogyny? Can we overcome the racist and sexist culture we're born into? I have confronted this question, again and again, when it comes to politically conservative women. Because frankly, I hold them in contempt. I mean, like I really hate their asses. To start with, I normally would refer to "their stinkasses". That should give you an idea.
Since the modern day GOP is viciously anti-woman, in every way, I think this is akin to despising collaborators. That's pretty natural, right?
In early 2002, I began posting on a political message board. I posted throughout the Bush years and became notorious for my vicious posts about Republican women posting there. In my defense, these were some of the most horrible people I have ever met. This was pre-Twitter, I was young, and I was vaguely unaware of exactly how loathsome these people were. But yeah, I gave better than I got.
I spent years struggling with what seemed to be my "factory" setting; employing misogynistic words. I definitely threw the word whore around. A lot. I never went to the c-word, always having that internal cringe there. But it's not really about individual words. I'm a better wordsmith than that - I launched attacks that were rooted in misogynistic culture, regardless of which words I did or did not deem acceptable.
Somehow along the way, I reset that preset, and I don't go there anymore. And not going there comes very naturally to me now. So when I read excerpts about Katie Miller from Jacob Soboroff's new book, I didn't scream out "you fucking lowlife whore!" My struggle was not that primitive, not by a long shot.
It went much deeper, and left me with a new struggle. Why are we more shocked over cruelty in women than in men?
Let's take a look at what the monstrous Miller had to say:
"In his new book, titled “Separated: Inside an American Tragedy,” Soboroff recounts a jaw-dropping conversation with Miller, who was serving as deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security at the time, on the administration’s policy of ripping kids from their families and holding them in squalid detention centers under the custody of cruel U.S. border officials.
“My family and colleagues told me that when I have kids, I’ll think about the separations differently, but I don’t think so,” Miller told Soboroff. “DHS sent me to the border to see the separations for myself, to try to make me more compassionate, but it didn’t work.”
“It didn’t work? I will never forget what I saw,” the reporter replied. “Seriously. Are you a white nationalist?”
Katie Miller is White Nationalist Stephen Miller's wife. Stephen Miller is one of Trump's closest advisors especially on immigration policy. Katie Miller is "good Christian" Mike Pence's press secretary.
I believe that a society can be, and should be judged by how it treats children. By any measure, we as a society have failed the civilization test on that score. We are ripping babies out of the arms of their mothers and fathers. We are putting them in cages. They are being neglected, not receiving medical care, no less love, they're terrified, they are forced to "represent" themselves in court. (we are talking 1 year olds here).
In short, we are torturing children. For me, it's the worst thing Trump has done and the American people have allowed. I immediately thought we were accruing a karmic debt. I can't not cry when I see these pictures and these stories.
And Katie Miller seems to take pleasure in telling a shocked Soboroff that it's water off her back.
Now, I know her husband is an evil monster, so why am I surprised he married an evil monster? What normal person would have him? What normal person would have her? But I still wrestled with my reaction to a woman showing cruelty towards babies and children.
In a world where Ghislaine Maxwell is in the news every day, why would I?
I don't know. It's a weird kind of sexism that makes you expect more and better of women. Right?
I believe all those responsible for this should be punished. But should Katie Miller be punished more severely because she's a woman? Of course not. But at first, I felt a bigger anger towards her. Of course, I would happily see all of the monsters responsible for child torture wiped off the face of the earth, so anger levels are all relative here.
Maybe it's more befuddlement than anger though.
"What kind of a woman?" I kept asking myself.
And then an early memory came to me. It was bring your Dad to school day. I don't recall which grade, but I have a strong impression it was Kindergarten. I was with my dad in the play ground, he had taken the day off. My dad was tall, blonde, blue eyed, very handsome. I don't know if that's why the little girl whose father was not there approached him that day.
But what I will never forget is the way he looked at her, like his heart would break, and how he invited her in to our group of two. Adult me now recognizes it was an adult look of pain for a child whose father may not even have been alive, I didn't know her and I don't know. I think she was in a different Kindergarten class, I just know I didn't know her.
I didn't mind that he brought her in with us. My dad loved me and I was secure. He had room in his heart for a little girl whom he had never met though. A little girl who searched the playground for someone who would protect her from being alone, from standing out to everyone as "the kid with no dad", found someone. And a day that she may very well have spent a week dreading, was less cruel because of him. Because of him.
When we expect nurturing behavior solely because someone is a woman, we are not only letting some men off the hook, but my GOD are we disrespecting the many men who can and do nurture children, who would never cause a child harm, and who would never stand by while someone else did.
So when I think of Katie Miller, and her shocking and inhuman (not inhumane, I want to be clear, inhuman) treatment of children, and I feel such anger, and I want to ask the world "what kind of a woman?" I need to also ask the world, to ask America, to ask republican voters "what kind of a man?"
What kind of a human being, America? What kind of a person?