The XX Factor

Todd Lally Has “Never Seen” Gender Discrimination, Therefore It Does Not Exist

This election cycle has just been endlessly entertaining , but I don’t think a news story had made me laugh out loud until today. The source of my amusement is one Todd Lally, a Republican congressional candidate from Kentucky. At a recent debate, when candidates were asked what they planned to do about the fact that gender discrimination makes Kentucky one of the worst places in America for women to live, Lally responded thusly : “I look at women’s issues like any other issue. We have equal rights in this country, we have fought–women have fought very hard for those equal rights. Uh, it’s up to them. I mean my wife is a working woman, she works very, very hard and she’s been very successful. I’ve not seen any barriers in her career and I don’t believe that exists.”

That’s good for an eye roll, maybe even a little outrage–what, no other woman in the world is capable of having an experience different from that of the gal lucky enough to end up with you?–but not outright laughter. But Lally wasn’t done. At the next debate, his Democratic opponent hammered him over his remarks. The Dem offered some evidence that gender-based discrimination does, in fact, exist, including the fact that a woman with a bachelor’s degree is likely making $40,000 to a man’s $60,000. Lally’s response? “Now, if you take two–a woman and a man who both have a bachelor’s degree, that’s kind of vague. Is the male’s degree in electrical engineering and the female’s is in education? Are these like degrees? Like careers? So I need to know more about that.”

Lally’s level of self-awareness would be hysterical if it weren’t so horrifying. A few paragraphs ago, the guy was proclaiming that gender discrimination does not exist. Now he’s announcing– in the course of arguing that discrimination is not a very big problem –that when he thinks about college-educated men he sees engineers, but when he thinks about degreed women he gets teachers.

When Talking Points Memo gave Lally’s campaign manager the opportunity to do some post-debate damage control, the staffer said Lally now believes discrimination “is an issue everywhere,” but “he just hasn’t seen it.”

Someone get that man a mirror.