Washington Times Columnist: Baldwin is “Barney Frank in a dress.“

If elected, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will be the first openly lesbian Senator in the United States. Slate’s political reporter Dave Weigel seems to think no one’s talking about Baldwin’s sexual orientation at all.

But while it’s not an issue in Wisconsin (we hope) that doesn’t mean no one is making an issue of Baldwin’s gender or sexual orientation. Wednesday, the Washington Times featured conservative commentator Jeffrey T. Kuhner making his case at against a “radical lesbian” entering the Senate. Offering his support to Baldwin’s opponent Tommy Thompson, Kuhner wrote:

Wisconsin’s electorate needs to know just how far out of the mainstream she really is. The last thing they need is Barney Frank in a dress.   

Equating Baldwin with the first openly gay Congressman is less of a criticism and more a public confession of Kuhner’s own discomfort with homosexuality. But remembering to put Baldwin in a dress reveals Kuhner’s concerns aren’t just homophobic, but sexist as well.

Upset Baldwin “wants to advance the destructive sexual revolution of the 1960s,” he points to a Huffington Post interview where the candidate admits she’s breaking through glass ceilings. Both references invoke historical images of the advancement of women—something Kuhner does not support.

According to Kuhner, Baldwin’s election would pose a threat to the “natural moral order” of the Badger State. He criticizes Baldwin’s personal beliefs and character, justifying his opposition by citing her gender and sexual orientation. Neither should appear in media coverage of any candidate.

In addition to his column with the Washington Times, Kuhner also hosts a radio show on Boston’s WRKO, which has caught the attention of Name It. Change It. before. WRKO has a list of abhorrently sexist radio hosts like Howie Carr and Rush Limbaugh.

Unfortunately, Kuhner is just another example of the media using sexist tactics to undermine the campaigns of women candidates by distracting voters from the key political issues. But, by calling out sexism when it happens, we can help repair damage inflicted on female candidates…and perhaps even get these ridiculously misogynistic WRKO shows off the air…one can only dream.


Published by Kate McCarthy on 10/19/2012

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