In an attempt to explain the allegations of sexual harassment at the Department of Homeland Security, Fox News host Geraldo Rivera on Friday resorted to saying that the few women in powerful roles at DHS want to ban all men, and that the department as a whole is undergoing a “same-sex takeover,” and a “lesbian cabal.”
The exchange on “Fox and Friends” this morning clearly made the only female host, Gretchen Carlson, uncomfortable. As she tried to steer the conversation toward a different topic, Rivera insisted on indicating that all of the women in top roles at Homeland Security are lesbians, and that such manly items as “old spice,” “smelly sailors,” and “english leather cologne” wouldn’t be allowed under Sec. Janet Napolitano:
RIVERA: Is the sub-text of the Department of Homeland Security scandal that there is some kind of lesbian kabal, that it’s a same sex takeover. …It seems everyone is talking around it. Is that really what people are saying, that men are disadvantaged because women and specifically lesbians are ruling the roost there?
CARLSON: I don’t know about that last part.[…]
KILMEADE: We don’t know for sure. But it’s easy to come to that conclusion that there is some different type of glass ceiling separating the Homeland Security Department in this case.
RIVERA: No machos need apply?
Rivera is falling into the easy trap of assuming that any powerful woman must be a lesbian, and that women achieving any level of power portends the end of men. But in fact, his comments — which seem an intentional attempt to incite anger — point the the general problem that having few women in leadership leads to sexist assumptions about a woman’s abilities, sexuality, and relationship with male coworkers.