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GOP Candidate John Kasich to Woman With Question at Political Event: “I Don’t Have Any Tickets for Taylor Swift”

Also, “I’m sure you get invited to all of the parties."

Screenshot 2015-10-08 at 2.58.52 PM

GOP presidential hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich was speaking to hundreds of students and community members at a University of Richmond event earlier this week when 18-year-old Kayla Solsbak raised her hand to ask a question. Kasich responded to Solsbak by saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any tickets for Taylor Swift or, you know, Linkin Park.”

Solsbak, the features assistant at University of Richmond newspaper The Collegian, described her experience for a Collegian article on Kasich’s visit:

My hand was raised, my body half-way out of my back-row seat, when Gov. John Kasich finally acknowledged me.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets,” he said, his eyes meeting mine.

The older members of the audience chuckled as my friends’ jaws dropped to the floor. It was astonishingly clear that Gov. Kasich did not come to Richmond for my vote.

[…] Most of the questions came from older members of the community, many vocalizing their support of Kasich before throwing him a softball question. Kasich barreled through a Planned Parenthood question, dismissing the young woman who posed it, and derided me when I had the audacity to raise my hand. Kasich came to Richmond to pander to retired Republicans. He could gain points by belittling me and my peers, so that’s what he did.

What continues to strike me is the hypocrisy of his condescension. He touted his ambitious energy as an 18-year-old man, but as soon as I, an 18-year-old woman, exhibited ambition, I became the target of his joke.

Student Brooke Harty shared another questionable comment made by Kasich at the event:

Kasich also said at one point, “I’m sure you get invited to all of the parties,” to one of the female students sitting in the front row of raised seats.

Comments like these, along with some of Kasich’s remarks on his policies, led to mixed reactions from some of the students who attended the event.

After publishing Solsbak’s account of her experiences, The Collegian shared another article later that day in which author Dylan McAuley contests Solsbak’s account of events and argues Kasich’s quip was justified “because the level of excitement being exuded by the author was that of a teen Taylor Swift fan trying to get tickets to a concert.” McAuley, who says he has a video of the event, argues that Solsbak was wrong to “play the sexist card:”

I haven’t the slightest idea as to how anything the Governor said could possibly be interpreted as sexist. Yes, there was a question about Planned Parenthood, but he answered it in a gentle way by explaining his differences of opinion with other people. He certainly didn’t rush through the question and dismiss the asker as the author claimed. Far too often, people make claims that Republicans are sexist because they have a little (R) next to their name. The world can see that today in the media treatment of Carly Fiorina versus that of Hillary Clinton. Republicans care about women and unless someone makes a sexist comment, such as Donald Trump, it is libelous and inappropriate to call someone sexist.

There’s a lot to parse here, and it’s difficult to get a clear picture of what happened without seeing a video of the audience. Although Solsbak and McAuley seem to disagree about what transpired between her and Kasich, whether or not she was inappropriately loud or disrupted the event is ultimately irrelevant–what this comes down to is the reflexive ways in which men use femininity as an insult.

I’m having a hard time thinking of a male equivalent for Kasich’s quip, and that’s likely because the pop culture typically associated with young men isn’t as marginalized and mocked as the media created by or beloved of young women. Kasich could have simply told Solsbak he needed to move on, but I suspect he subconsciously realized that he’d discredit her far more if he mentioned her in the same sentence as a female fandom.

When young men are vocally enthusiastic, they’re politically informed. When women demonstrate similar levels of investment, it’s apparently because we have, literally, forgotten our place; we cannot tell the difference between a concert and a sexist, shitty political event.

And yes, Kasich’s comment was sexist, although I’m sure he didn’t intend it that way. But implicit, accidental sexism can be just as degrading over time as explicit sexism, partially because many men are less willing to acknowledge it.

(via USNews and The Slot, image via NBC screenshot)

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