Oklahoma’s first female head of state — Gov. Mary Fallin — has openly supported her party’s often-disgusting presidential nominee for months, at times vying for attention as a possible VP candidate. Now, she has offered a meek critique of Donald Trump’s latest misogynistic scandal.
Fallin only released a statement on Facebook Sunday after journalists and others pressed her for comment over 48 hours.
Such reluctance to acknowledge the problem exacerbates a culture where men feel comfortable crossing moral and legal lines with women. Oklahoma Republicans — and Oklahoma women in general — deserve better.
Gross Old Pig
The breadth of this GOP nominee’s sexism has unfurled in plain sight of Americans and, in particular, Fallin. (Trump’s racism can be left for another editorial. The Enid News & Eagle published their own Sunday.)
For decades, Trump has insulted women about their weight, about their appearance, for breastfeeding, for having dated around and for other cringe-worthy views about the female gender.
Leaked Friday, Trump’s comments about grabbing women by their genitals and kissing them without warning are like pulling the drywall out of a flooded house and seeing the mold you already knew was there.
Which is why Trump’s ongoing support from Fallin (and many other female GOP leaders) has been confounding from its onset. While Oklahoma’s first female governor admits “I am disappointed and offended,” some of her Trump-backing colleagues are standing up and saying no more.
Over the weekend, numerous Republican women pulled their support of Trump, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying, “Enough! Donald Trump should not be president.”
But as Friday rolled into Sunday, Fallin said nothing, despite NewsOK, the AP and the Tulsa Frontier reporting on the topic and noting her silence.
Faced with a political conundrum and the eyes of mothers, daughters and self-respecting men upon her, the governor ultimately punted — taking offense at Donald being Donald while hoping he would display presidential qualities in Sunday night’s debate.
A victim of sexism and misogyny herself
Fallin’s milquetoast perspective on Trump’s vulgarity is particularly confusing because Fallin herself has been the victim of grand and public sexism for years.
A moment of infidelity and messy divorce saddled the then-lieutenant governor with an alliterative and appalling nickname. Over two gubernatorial campaigns and six years of governance, Okies have uttered crass, sexist rhetoric at the former state representative from Tecumseh.
Likewise, Fallin’s daughter, Christina, has been belittled by an obscure local social blog for years, simultaneously given her own denigrating nickname and recognized on the site’s shamefully misogynistic weekly feature, Hot Girl Friday.
To this end, Donald Trump is the presidential candidate that a great deal of the American populace has wrought upon itself, either through ribald treatment of girls and women or the willful denial that gender equality — in terms of pay, social expectations and language — is something we still lack in the greatest nation on Earth.
Mary Fallin’s ambivalence in the wake of repugnant revelations about her preferred presidential candidate is part of a problem that she herself faces.
As the first female governor of Oklahoma, she has been granted eight years to frame a narrative on gender issues, rape culture and respectful values, if she wants to.
Put another way: To whom much is given, much is expected.