CNN host Don Lemon caught a lot of (deserved) flak this week after opining that 2024 Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was past her prime.
He asserted this several times and encouraged his co-hosts on the show to Google it. Women are in their prime, he suggested, in their 20s and 30s.
He was laughing as he said it, much to the chagrin of his female co-hosts. He was kept off the show, CNN This Morning for several days but returned on February 22, 2023. Apparently there will be no further consequences for such an egregious gaffe.
Women are in their prime for childbearing in their 20s and 30s and even into their 40s. To suggest that childbearing is the highest and greatest use of women is astonishingly dismissive and misogynistic.
Haley is 51, a former South Carolina governor and former United Nations ambassador. Lemon is 56. Is he past his prime as well? Is President Joe Biden at 80 past his prime and former President Donald Trump at 76 past his prime? Is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders past his prime at 81 years old?
Condoleeza Rice was 51 when she was appointed Secretary of State for the Bush administration. Madeleine Albright was 60 years old when she was appointed Secretary of State in 1997 by the Clinton administration. Were they past their prime in terms of prowess, competence and political and professional efficacy?
Former Speaker of the House and current representative Nancy Pelosi is 82. Hard to argue that her record demonstrates she’s past any kind of prime.
Lemon demonstrates such an offensive blasé attitude – as if he is uniquely capable of judging (with the help of Google) when a woman is past her prime. CNN needs to do more to censure him than suspending him for three days. (Hopefully without pay)
Women are amazing in their ability to gestate and give birth. It’s truly miraculous, but it’s not their sole purpose on the planet and to suggest it is, by reducing their “prime” to peak childbearing years is sexist, offensive, reductionist and wrong.
An apology is not enough from Lemon.