Double standard for professional women

She must be a lesbian, they say, because she’s 50 years old, never married, and — shocker! — once played softball at the University of Chicago.

How absurd and irresponsible can you get?

First of all, whether Kagan is or is not gay makes no difference on whether she’s qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. No more than whether she is a Jew, Catholic or Protestant.

Second, even asking the question perpetuates a longtime stereotype about professional women: If they’re successful and single, they must be gay.

Third, making her sexuality an issue about Kagan represents a huge double standard when it comes to men and women in public life. Why wasn’t David Souter forced to reveal his sexuality? Why is this question only asked about female executives like Janet Napolitano, Janet Reno or Elena Kagan?

After all, there are today several single, never-married Republican men serving in the House and Senate. We all know who they are, and nobody cares. Unless we’re willing to subject them to the same intense personal scrutiny, we should insist that any such inquiry about Elena Kagan be dropped as inappropriate.

The question “Is she or isn’t she?” should not even be part of the debate.


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