Kelly's Blog: Grown Men Behaving Badly

"Don't worry, sweetie, you're a little girl. You can always run home to Mommy and Daddy." 

I had to read that sentence twice, because I couldn’t believe a grown man would say that to a female member of Congress. Or any woman, for that matter. A wannabe Congressional candidate from Plattsburgh somehow feels that’s the best way to unseat Rep. Elise Stefanik. Steve Kreig is a 60 year old school board member who recently switched his party affiliation, in an attempt to become Stefanik’s opponent. Rather than challenge the incumbent in a primary, he changed parties.

He posted on Stefanik’s page: "I intend to kick your stingy, money-grubbing, sniveling coward of a butt out of congress," he said, in part. "Don't worry, sweetie, you're a little girl. You can always run home to Mommy and Daddy."

Oh boy. Before I dive in here, I want to make this clear, this post is not about politics. It is not about Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives. I’m not a man-hating, women’s lib fanatic. For the record, I love men and you will not see me with a pink vagina hat on my head marching on Washington (although I fully respect the right of any woman to do so). It’s not even about Elise Stefanik. It’s about how notions that many have foolishly believed had long been put aside are still rearing their ugly heads.

First, there’s the racism issue. I grew up in suburbia, raised to believe that color didn’t matter. I never saw racism because I wasn’t brought up that way. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, I just ignorantly believed that the rest of the country felt the same way I did, that we are all equal and the United States is one big, happy melting pot. The social injustices of the 50’s and 60’s were just dark chapters in history books that we had learned from and moved past. I can’t believe how wrong I was. Just because I never witnessed overt racism, that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It just meant that growing up in my little bubble, I never saw it.

Sexism, on the other hand, I have not only witnessed…. I have experienced. Overall, we tend to believe that men and women are now equal, and many roll their eyes when feminists start talking about the pay gap, health care coverage for women, and the treatment of women in the workplace. Comments like Steve Kreig’s make your jaw drop, until you realize that people actually STLL FEEL THIS WAY about women, and feel justified in saying or posting it. Would Kreig have said that if his opponent had been a young man? Would he have called him a “little boy” or told him to go home to his mommy and daddy? 

Early on in my reporting career, I applied for a promotion within my company. I was working part-time, and applied for a newly vacated full time slot. A male manager told me, to my face, that I did not have “the right plumbing” for the job. In other words, it was not my lack of experience that didn’t get me the job, it was my lack of male genitalia.

About ten years later, I was an established reporter and anchor, covering a press conference being called by an attorney who was suing a Roman Catholic Diocese over the sex abuse scandal. I also happened to be about 10 months pregnant at the time. When I asked him a rather pointed question about his abrasive personality perhaps preventing the diocese from being inclined to settle with his client, he looked at my distended belly and replied “Shouldn’t you be in Lamaze class?” There was an audible gasp from reporters, and that attorney was later disbarred for other unprofessional behavior.

And here we are, 13 years later, and a school board member from Plattsburgh calls a female member of Congress a little girl who should go home to her mommy and daddy. Like the attorney who told me I should be in Lamaze class rather than asking hard-hitting questions, this guy needs to be removed from his position. Not only is he not a suitable candidate for a US office, he should not be a member of a school board, making decisions affecting the education of girls and young women. His term doesn’t expire for over two years, but his behavior is inappropriate, unprofessional and unbecoming of the school district. His conduct is not consistent with the board’s values and mission and if the district doesn’t remove him, let’s hope the taxpayers of the school district do.

Photo: Getty Images

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