So, when I saw the exchange yesterday between White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and veteran journalist April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, one in which Spicer grew testier by the minute before dismissively admonishing Ryan to “stop shaking her head,” I noted once again how the voice of the Trump administration has a Napoleonic Complex.
Spicer’s unprofessionalism toward Ryan has only been outmatched in recent weeks by President Trump’s own condescending reply to her question last February about whether he would meet with the Congressional Black Caucus, where Trump said “Do you want to set up the meeting, are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting.”
I have to hand it to Sister Ryan and her ability to keep her cool in the face of rank unprofessionalism, sexism and racism by a president and a press secretary whose behaviors remind me of the old white shop keeper from “The Color Purple” who harrassed a young Celie by screaming “are you gonna buy something gal?!?”
Now, I have never met Mr. Spicer, but whenever I see him at the Brady Press Room podium he looks short…I mean really short—with small hands…much like Trump’s small hands. We all know the old tale about what small hands and feet on a man connote, thus the brash nastiness from such men who take out their “shortcomings” on women by being nasty or petty.
Also, whenever I see Spicer on TV, he is wearing a suit that does not fit him well and ties that look like they were inherited from his grandfather. Spicer also talks extremely fast when he is providing “alternative facts,” also known as mainstream lies, for his boss, President Trump. When he is super mad, Spicer turns red and gets out of breath when scolding some reporter or another during his daily briefings.
Now, to be fair and balanced, most men struggle with something related to our physical appearances. I am tall but overweight (my suits from Nic’s Toggery in Tallahassee, however, are tailored to fit me perfectly, and my Robert Talbott tie collection is always “on fleek,” which according to my young nieces and nephews, is akin to what we used to call “fresh” or “on point” back in the day.)
Nevertheless, my beef this morning is that most people do not judge a professional man’s looks in the same nasty tones that women are judged. Such is how 60 and 70 year old male reporters can still sit as anchors and featured correspondents on national and local news shows, while women within the profession sometimes find younger women replacing them on set. Such is how Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly can look like the “Crypt Keeper” from HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt,” and still get away with disrespecting California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters by saying he could not pay attention to her political points because he kept staring at her “James Brown wig.”
If you check Black Twitter or the feeds of most of your professional female friends, you will see stories about how women have to put up with all manner of bullshit on their jobs from men who believe they are superior because they were born with male genitalia. For black women, such often is a double strike, as they have to not only combat white males who dismiss their thoughts and deeds on account of sex and race, but from black male Hoteps who believe that women should be seen and not heard.
So it is important for each of us to call the Trump’s, Spicer’s and O’Reilly’s of the world out so that we can stop this not so subtle push to turn back the hands of time to a period when women of all races were seldom seen or heard from in the workplace, were often forced to dim their intellectual lights to assuage the intellectual inferiority of their own fathers, brothers and husbands. Or, more critically, to push back against old conservative white men who find no hypocrisy in limiting access to birth control and abortion, all the while popping Viagra and Cialis to render themselves potent enough to sire babies.
Indeed, like the old Virginia Slims ad used to say, women “have come a long way, baby,” but it is up to us to prevent their gender from going a long ways back…