I could not help but wonder. As I prepared to watch the first 2016 presidential debate, I wondered. As I sat watching the debate, I wondered. As I talked with others after the debate, I wondered.
I wondered what would happen if the characters, circumstances, and situations of each of the major presidential candidates were reversed but their genders remained the same. I first wondered to myself. Now I want to wonder with you in this Sketches.
Before the debate started, I wondered what would we think if the woman had married three times and divorced twice. I support divorce when necessary and remarriage when possible. However, I know the standard is so different for women than for men. The standard is so high that not one woman has been elected president in over 226 years. Should the woman be held to a different and harsher standard in this day and age? I wonder!
I wondered what would we think if the woman running for president married a man 24 years her junior. It has not even crossed our minds since the man has married a woman 24 years younger. If it were the woman, our tongues would never stop wagging. I wonder if these different standards for marriage should carry over to the presidential race. I wonder!
I wondered what would we say if the woman publically said, “I’ll bomb the s_ _ _ out of them!” We endure some women using the “S” word in private, but it would be completely unacceptable for the woman to use it in a public speech. I wondered what would we do if the woman running for president publically said “What the f_ _ _ !” Would we totally disqualify the woman? With the man, we let it go in everyday life. Now we let it go as the man runs for president. Wouldn’t we be in an uproar if the woman presidential candidate uttered such words publicly? I wonder!
I wonder what would we say if the man running for president had been Secretary of State and used his personal email rather than a government email. Would he have been repeatedly investigated? I wonder if the man had been Secretary of State when the Benghazi attack happened, would we have had eight different investigations? I wonder!
If the man had been elected twice as U.S. Senator from the second largest state in the Union and served as U.S. Secretary of State, would we think that the woman who had made a lot of money in business but had no political experience was the more qualified of the two? What if she had been involved in 3,500 lawsuits, bankrupted four companies, and lost a billion dollars in one year? Would we at least insist that the woman release her income tax returns since every presidential candidate since the early 1970s has? I wonder!
I wondered as I watched the 90-minute debate - the man appeared tired, somewhat incoherent, and repeated himself over and over in sixty minutes. What would we say if the woman performed in such a manner? Would we say she is not strong enough? Would we say she is not smart enough? Would we say that her temperament is not right to be president? Would we say she is unfit to be president? I wonder!
I wondered about lies and truth. I kept thinking how fact checkers found that the man was untruthful in more than 70 percent of statements made. The woman was untruthful in 21 percent of statements. However, the polls indicate that the woman is considered more untruthful and untrustworthy. I wonder what would we say if the woman was untruthful 70 + percent of the time and the man was untruthful 21 percent of the time. I wonder!
I wondered about assertiveness and aggressiveness. As I continued to watch the presidential debate, I observed how the man kept butting in on the woman. He did it 51 times. The woman attempted to butt in 19 times. I wondered what we would say if the woman butted in on the man 51 times. Would we say that she is too pushy? Would we say she is too aggressive? Would we say she is too uncouth? Should the woman be held to a stricter standard than the man when both are seeking the presidency? I wonder!
During the debate, I heard the man sniffle on several occasions. I understand the sniffles. Sometimes I sniffle. However, I wonder what we would say if the woman sniffled in the same way. Would we think she is seriously ill? Would it be a major news story? Would the conspiracy theorists say it was a sign of drug use? I wonder!
I watched the expressions on the man’s face. The face reflected all kinds of reactions, none of them good. If the woman showed the same facial reactions, would we have a field day with our thoughts, our words, our actions? There was so much more I wondered about, but I do not have the space to explore them. I wonder!
EPILOGUE – We are quick to say we are not prejudiced. We even convince ourselves. When we apply different standards for the same conduct are we not demonstrating prejudice? If the man and the woman are running for the same office, why should different standards be applied? Shouldn’t a lie be a lie regardless who tells it? Shouldn’t gross public conduct be gross regardless of who does it? Are we fair when we have very different standards?