Former Secretary of State John Kerry recently appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher to discuss his new book and, among other things, a recent Donald Trump tweet attack regarding John’s meeting with the Iran regime. In a seemingly lighthearted clap back, Kerry responded by saying that Trump had “the immaturity of an eight-year-old boy with the insecurity of a teenage girl.” While his response was met with approval by the audience, I myself found it incorrect and sexist. Not only is this offensive to young women everywhere, but it plays into gender stereotypes, and excuses Trump of his behavior.
First of all, I wonder why he found it necessary to make the distinction between the immaturity of girls and other genders? Saying that boys are immature and girls are insecure assumes boys are confident but might act out – that whole “boys will be boys” idea. More pointedly, he specifies the age of the boys but not the girls, which assumes boys eventually stop being immature at some point but teenage girls are consistently insecure. It also presents this idea that Trump just had some insecurities left over from childhood that were never dealt with, so his behavior is laughable.
American politics have left me nauseated, embarrassed, and horrified ever since Trump has set foot in The White House. His behavior and ideas are dangerous, not something to be laughed at. He is narcissistic, racist, sexist, and erratic, not to mention guilty of sexual assault. Comparing him to a teenage girl is an insult to girls everywhere and is – more to the point – indicative of where our politics have led us – a laughing stock to the rest of the world.
What’s more, assuming all teenage girls are insecure is just incorrect. Young adults are more woke and educated about the world than I ever was at their age. With teens like Cameron Kasky and Emma González of the #NeverAgain movement to 13-year-old Marley Dias who started the #1000blackgirlbooks movements because she was “sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” this generations’ teenagers are proving to be hardworking, smart, and confident in their abilities. Sure, there are still young adults (as well as grown adults) with insecurity issues and there always will be. But we are in living in a time where we are more critical of the media we consume and are becoming more aware of how it affects us internally. Trump could learn a thing or two.
It’s clear that Kerry felt he could get away with a joke like this because firstly, as white cis male, he can really say pretty much anything and get away it. Secondly, as he was appearing on a show with a host that’s known for being sexist, unabashedly politically incorrect, and anti-Muslim, it’s pretty clear he felt it was a safe space.
What’s ironic about his comment is that the reason teenage girls are insecure in the first place is that of white men like John Kerry. They live a life of privilege, handed to them by the patriarchy, the same system that places these ideals on our shoulders of what women and men should be like.
Kerry and men like him are the cause of our insecurities and continue to perpetuate them, as long as they continue to be part of a system that oppresses women, LGBTQ people, and especially people of color.