The XX Factor

GOP Congressman: “Sometimes a Lady Needs to Be Told When She’s Being Nasty”

Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas

U.S. Congress via Wikimedia Commons

Republican Rep. Brian Babin believes Donald Trump was right to call Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman” during Wednesday’s presidential debate.

“You know what, she’s saying some nasty things,” Babin said on Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes Show on Thursday evening. Colmes then asked if Trump should have said what he said.

“Well, I’m a genteel Southerner, Alan,” Babin said.

Colmes pressed him: “So that means no?”

“No,” Babin said. “I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty. I do.”

There are a few peculiar things about Babin’s statement. First of all, genteel seems like the kind of congratulatory label you can’t stick to yourself—it’s all about how you treat others, so others should have to judge whether you’re actually genteel or not. Speaking of women like they’re untrained dogs who must be reprimanded when they displease their masters runs entirely counter to the pillars of gentility, which require gentlemen and gentlewomen to be hospitable and courteous to each other’s faces while whispering rumors behind their backs. A truly genteel Southerner would not tell a lady when she was being nasty—he’d make polite small talk with her, then later make jokes about her body hair from the safety of his men-only cigar lounge.

Babin’s choice of lady is rich, too. He’s using a word often deployed to shame women into the tight confines of old-fashioned femininity (a lady doesn’t shout, a lady doesn’t sit with her legs spread, etc.) while scolding Clinton for speaking unkind words about the wannabe dictator who’s running against her for president. It’s unclear whether gentlemen ever need to be told when their words become too harsh for Southern ears or whether they can regulate their own behavior more capably than ladies.

The best part of Babin’s statement is what he’s twisting himself in misogynist knots to defend. Trump called Clinton “such a nasty woman” when she said this about her tax plan: “My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it.” Considering that Trump has actually admitted that he’s gotten out of paying income taxes—he’s tried to spin it as a “businessmen will be businessmen” kind of move—Clinton’s quip may be the gentlest barb anyone could devise for the white nationalists’ candidate for president. She basically just repeated what he himself has said: Donald Trump will try to get out of as much of his tax burden as he can. You’d think a nasty woman could have come up with something much less genteel.