There is a growing attempt to paint Wendy Davis as the victim of a double standard, in which a woman is treated more harshly than conservative men as to family failings and career ambition.

Kirsten Powers articulated that view in her post at The Daily Beast, The Right Subjects Wendy Davis to Litmus Tests No Male Would Ever Face (interestingly, the title shows up in search engines as “Wendy Davis the Piñata Parent,” not sure if that was the original title):

It seems that Wendy Davis needs to learn her place….

It’s fair to criticize Davis for her misleading bio that implied she had been a single mother during law school. Instead, a misogynistic mob is determined to punish her for her parenting choices….

Where were the headlines claiming the unfitness of male Republican candidates who ditched wives with whom they had children (think Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani)? Or are we to understand that conservatives believe that cheating on a spouse and getting divorced is not relevant, but giving your husband full custody of a child is?

Similarly, Politico Magazine has a lead article playing up the “Wendy as victim of sexism” defense.  In The Most Judged Woman in America, the sub-title tells the story:

Wendy Davis did make a mistake. She thought that we were ready for a single mother.

Just Google “Wendy Davis Sexism” and you will see that these two examples above are not exceptions, they are part of a pattern of defending Davis.

There is no double standard. Both Newt Gingrich and John McCain were seriously attacked because of their treatment of first wives and kids, as I shared with Powers in a Twitter exchange:

Every case is different, and the world of politics rarely is entirely consistent.

But if anything, Davis has been treated the way we would expect a man to be treated if it were discovered that his entire political narrative was exaggerated if not fabricated. The reasons her treatment of her husband and children matters is that it always matters, and that she made her parenting a critical part of her political narrative.

It was the level of departure from her children here that makes the difference here, not that Davis is a woman.

As pointed out the other day, Davis is viewed more harshly than politicians-mothers like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz who are away from their children for work a lot because “Americans will forgive a lot in a politician. But a woman who leaves her kids is just beyond the pale.”

Given that the divorce papers alleged adultery, if anything Davis has received easier treatment — so far — than similarly situated conservative male politicians.

The attempt to give Davis a pass because she is a woman is an attempt to set a double standard, an easier one for her.


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