In an article on CNN.com about President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California alleged that the conservative criticism of Miers is "sexist." Feinstein comments that individuals instead should "...hold their fire and give people an opportunity to come before a hearing."
While I agree that there is much good to be learned from the hearing process and I applaud Senator Feinstein's call for more information, I take issue with her allegation of sexism. Gender is always a factor, both in the political arena and in career advancement. After all, it is not coincidental that Miers has been nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, one of only two women on the Court. However, it is difficult to see how the far right's criticism of Miers is particularly gender related. Conservatives are concerned that Miers will not be sufficiently respectful of human life or tough enough on crime, but these are religious and/or ideological concerns, not gender concerns.
Why does it matter? It's a bit like the boy who cried wolf. To call these criticisms "sexist" when, in fact, they are not both diverts the public from the real issues and makes it more difficult for them to respond when there are, in fact, sexist claims being supported. Let's call a spade a spade, and reserve the term "sexist" for occasions when there really is something to worry about.