Sonia Sotomayor: Hysteria when you’re near

It astounds me — truly astounds me — that even in this day and age public figures can get away with attacking women leaders just for being women. A woman who is strong-willed, opinionated, assertive, forceful, or unwilling to suffer fools — all qualities valued in male leaders — is labeled an “angry bitch.” And not just! See, she has this thing called a uterus, and has these hormones called estrogen and progesterone, she must be unable to control her emotions. Back at the turn of the century, the previous turn of the century, they referred to this imagined phenomenon as “female hysteria.”

(Neurologist Jean Martin Charcot demonstrates a case of “hysteria” c. 1885)

As soon as President Obama named federal appeals judge Sonya Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court, right-wing commentators jumped on the chance to attack her — since they apparently are only against sexism when it’s politically convenient for them (i.e. making misogynist comments against Sen. Hillary Clinton, but claiming critics of former Gov. Sarah Palin are sexist).

An excellent article by McClatchy Newspapers on Wednesday predicted the coming firestorm:

WASHINGTON — Judge Sonia Sotomayor can be blunt, aggressive and impatient. So get ready for another public debate, and probably some insinuations, about her judicial temperament.

Sotomayor earned considerable praise among the lawyers quoted in the almanac. However, she also elicited critiques that range from “she can be a terror on the bench” and “she is temperamental and excitable” to “she can be a bit of a bully” and “she can get harsh at oral argument.”

All told, her temperament drew a dozen highly critical comments. Another appellate judge who was considered for the Supreme Court opening, Diane Wood of the Chicago -based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has uniformly positive almanac reviews concerning judicial temperament.

Sotomayor’s colleague and former Yale Law School professor, Judge Guido Calabresi, became aware of the anonymous sniping after she joined him on the 2nd Circuit in 1998. He eventually concluded that the complaints reflected sexism among male attorneys.

“They didn’t like the idea of a woman being as strong as her male colleagues,” Calabresi said in an interview.

He further characterized Sotomayor as a “wonderful colleague” who doesn’t mince words. He said she had “in a not insignificant number of cases changed my mind . . . both by charm, but mainly by the force of her legal argument.”

Send in the clowns:

Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has called her an “angry woman.” Sean Hannity, naturally, has picked up all the negative things these lawyers have said about her suggesting she doesn’t the right “judicial temperament” (read: “she’s a hysterical woman”).

And also, because it’s convenient, they are charging, very ridiculously, that she is racist against all the poor long-suffering white men who hold a drastic majority of all positions of power in the government, media, and corporate America. So Limbaugh also called her a “racist” and a “bigot” — even going to so far to compare her to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Newt Gingrich jumped on the “racist” bandwagon, too, of course. (Read here to find out what all the accusations of racism against Sotomayor are entirely unfounded.)

Meanwhile Chicken Little, I mean Glenn Beck, has dismissed all her life accomplishments with this disparaging comment: “Hey, Hispanic chick lady! You’re empathetic … you’re in!” Yeah, that’s not at all sexist or racist. Never mind she graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, served as the editor of Yale Law Journal, and worked as a prosecutor before being nominated to a U.S. District Court.

By the way these talking heads are reacting, you’d think we had something serious to be concerned about, as if the Supreme Court nominee had been accused of sexual harassment by a reputable source.

My favorite is G. Gordon Liddy — a convicted felon in the Watergate scandal who has a talk radio show, that apparently, people listen to — when he says this:

LIDDY: Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.

Oh noes! She has a vagina! Maybe Liddy would like to suggest some helpful products for her.

Listen here for Liddy’s full comment and commentary by The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur, who points out that the language Liddy refers to as “illegal alien” is spoken in countries all over the world, such as Spain.


2 thoughts on “Sonia Sotomayor: Hysteria when you’re near

  1. What really irks me is that these guys can say this stuff with absolute impunity. If any prominent Republican dares to criticize Limbaugh, he apologizes a couple of days later. These creeps can say whatever hateful nonsense, and they never get their radio shows fined or cancelled. They continue to get paid speaking gigs and book deals and airtime on Fox News, or whatever. Where are the Republicans who will tell these guys to shut up?

  2. The Republican party would generally like women to be where they are in the 50s. There are some exceptions to this, usually female Republicans, but for the most part… they are just acting their type. What is so shameful is the lack of general outrage in the traditional media about calling them on it.


    that is shameful.

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