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Kellyanne Conway Is Right to Say Much of the Criticism of Her Is 'Gender-Based'

Kellyanne Conway

Conway's falsehoods should be placed under a microscope, not her appearance. 

Donald Trump's adviser Kellyanne Conway has provided plenty of fodder for critics since she first joined his campaign. From the nonexistent Bowling Green Massacre to "alternative facts" to her belief that feminism means hating men and supporting abortion, she's been wrong about a lot of things. But over the weekend, while speaking at the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, she said that much of the criticism leveled against her was "gender-based," and she was right. While calling her out for her dissembling and blatant covering for Trump's often abysmal actions is absolutely necessary, the numerous of memes and jokes about her Inauguration Day outfit and the hateful comments about her hair are unnecessary and misogynist.

"If you want to disagree on policy -- if you disagree on tax reform or health care reform or immigration or you're for abortion and I'm not -- then say that," Conway said, according to USA Today. "Disagree that way, that's what America is. But so much of the criticism of me is so gender-based."

Considering that Time, one of the country's most trusted news sources, ran a story titled "Best Kellyanne Conway Inauguration Outfit Memes," which included comparisons of her couture outfit with Paddington Bear, the Nutcracker, the American Girl doll Molly, and plenty of others, while Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, men who are not known for their Beau Brummel aesthetics, slid through the day relatively unscathed in terms of appearance, it lends strength to her argument that she's unfairly scrutinized because of her gender.

At the summit this weekend Conway added that the critique of her has been about "how I look or what I wear or how I speak." And indeed, headlines dissecting Conway's hair abound, although, to be fair, Trump's hair does get its fair share of airtime. Still, Galore magazine devoted an entire piece to how people on Twitter demanded Conway invest in conditioner for her locks.

Finally, Conway said ad nauseam assessment of her physical appearance, "It's really remarkable ... and it totally undercuts modern feminism."

Again, she's not wrong in asserting that having her looks continually appraised undercuts feminism, even if her lack of knowledge about feminism is the thing that deserves to be placed under a microscope.

"It's difficult for me to call myself a feminist in the classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male and it seems to be very pro-abortion, in this context," Conway told a cheering audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. "And I'm neither anti-male or pro-abortion."

A few publications, including The New York Times, have noted that Conway has been put through the same misogynist wringer of being picked apart for her appearance that Hillary Clinton has endured her entire career. And just because she's one of Trump's chief prevaricators with an already long history of tweetable blunders like her insistence that a massacre occurred at Bowling Green, Ky., focusing on her looks rather than on the content of her message is a mistake. While Twitter has a field day over the minutiae of Conway's hair care routine or lack thereof, she slips dangerous, often patently false, ideas into the zeitgeist.

Gillian Thomas, senior staff lawyer with the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Times in March that she believes there hasn't been much dissent around gender-based criticism of Conway because there's a sense that "she doesn't have our back."

"If women were more united and speaking up at this behavior, including when it's perpetrated by the left, we'd all be a lot better off," Thomas said.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.
Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.