Here we go again.
A strong, prominent woman in the political arena comes under attack for being too strong, ambitious and having too big a role in her spouse’s campaign.
Sound familiar? Painfully so. Sexist? No question.
Only this time, the target is not Hillary Clinton, though the treatment is the same.
This time, the target is not a self-described feminist, but the wife of a hardcore right winger, Casey DeSantis. It doesn’t matter. Sexism comes in many colors, red as well as blue.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is married to a former television anchor and breast cancer survivor who is the mother of three young children and, reportedly, a powerful voice in her husband’s campaigns. Sort of like Bill and Hill. The presidential campaign has yet to formally begin, but already she has been the target of criticism because she is her husband’s partner in many ways and plays a powerful role in his innermost circle of advisers.
Why shouldn’t she? Why should she be attacked for it? Haven’t we gotten to the point where the spouse — whether it be husband or wife — has a right to play any role their spouse wants them to play in the campaign?
In a much-quoted article recently, Politico described Casey DeSantis as her husband’s greatest asset and his greatest liability, with the emphasis on the latter. The Lady Macbeth analogy was attributed to Roger Stone, a longtime Trump supporter and opponent of DeSantis, who remarked in a Telegram post: “Have you ever noticed how much Ron DeSantis’ wife Casey is like Lady Macbeth?” — an agent, in other words, of her husband’s undoing.
Maybe Stone is an agent of his Don’s undoing?
I probably don’t agree with Casey DeSantis, and I certainly can’t imagine any reason I’d ever support her husband. But the best thing I’ve heard about him is that he has a strong, outspoken wife. I haven’t spent most of my life in politics promoting powerful women only to see the same old shabby treatment heaped on a woman I disagree with.
Take her at her word and disagree with her. About something she says or does. Not just for being her. Not for being too bright, too charming or, even worse, not charming enough.
Not for bragging too much about her husband’s accomplishments, as Politico did about Casey (and isn’t this what wives are supposed to do?) or not bragging enough. It’s time to stop judging wives for being too involved, or not involved enough, too powerful an influence on their husbands or too removed from what matters.
Casey DeSantis has three young children to raise while her husband runs for president. Anyone and everyone can find something to fault her for in how she chooses to balance her family and the campaign and on her roles as wife, partner and mother, which is why none of us should be sitting in judgment. I talk about spouses, but let’s be real. What Casey DeSantis faces is uniquely a woman’s problem, and Stone’s comment is sexism 101.
Estrich is a lawyer, professor and columnist for Creators Syndicate: www.creators.com.