Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly has once again caused a stir by stating his views against a woman president. On The O'Reilly Factor this week, he posed the question to Kristen Powers, a political analyst, and Kate Obenshain, a Republican strategist: "There has got to be some downside to having a woman president, right?"
When met with blank looks, O'Reilly continued: "When you're president of the United States you have to deal with people like Putin, you have got to deal with the real orney Mullahs in Iran. Look, the Mullahs in Iran, they think women are, like, subspecies."
It is just as likely, however, that O'Reilly thinks the same thing. Powers and Obenshain were unsurprisingly not impressed, although Powers finally suggested it may be possible for a female executive to feel pressured into appearing tough.
Visibly bristling, Powers retorted: "What's the downside of a man being president?" To which O'Reilly replied, gawping like a goldfish: "Men are men and women are women. There is a difference. Now, men, they're tied up, a lot of them, in their macho image and that kind of thing. And they act like you're not going to push me around. That could be a deficit, you know. They not as open to sensitive discussion as women."
While his comments should be shocking, this is simply another tiresome misogynistic "view" he has brought to the overloaded table. Previously, the talk show host managed to form a tenuous link between a study on binge drinking and sex. Basing his conclusions on a 2011 study that revealed 1 in 5 people admit drinking heavily on occasion, he claimed: "Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex, and aren't going to use birth control anyway."
At the time, this was O'Reilly "slut-shaming" approach to opposing funding for contraception. It is nonsensical and insulting - and ignores the fact that the majority of contraceptives are taken in a daily pill form or through injections or intrauterine devices, not when sexual intercourse takes place. His argument - if you can call it that - is bizarre and inaccurate, rather like his opinion on female Secretaries of State. There are no facts to substantiate his claims, but boys will be boys, right?
It can be argued O'Reilly's verbal vomiting is just a joke and that reasonable, rational-thinking people will dismiss his views as nonsense. There is, however, the danger that he is fuelling the prejudices of those who absorb his every word. He opposes women's rights, even if it is presented in a tongue-in-cheek way. In 2012, he advocated a bill which would directly undermine women's health and reproductive rights, under the guise of preventing sex-selective abortions.
Ironically, O'Reilly stated last month that the "war on women" - an expression which used to describe the Republican Party policies as a wide-scale effort to restrict women's reproductive rights - was a "ruse". A crafty subterfuge put in place to unite female Democrat voters? Perhaps. But it also describes O'Reilly and his clueless supporters, who argue against contraception funding, abortion and female presidents.