Glenn Beck’s sexism is, sadly, not a new phenomenon. I wish I could be surprised that he responded to Meghan McCain’s new skin cancer PSA by graphically pretending to vomit at the sight of her in a strapless dress, but at least McCain didn’t take his sexist tirade lying down. She responded to Beck’s vicious tirade about her body by telling him to focus on what’s important: fighting against skin cancer.
It’s a particularly sensitive issue for McCain because both of her parents suffered from skin cancer, which is perhaps why she chose to respond to Beck’s vitriol in such a mature and productive way. In an open letter, published on the Daily Beast, she said that she thought by pretending to be naked (the theme of the PSA is a number of celebrities, depicted wearing nude bodysuits or filmed, like McCain, so that they appear not to be clothed, saying that they feel “naked” without sunscreen), she could draw attention to the disease. McCain was, in reality, wearing a strapless dress, which was cut off by the camera.
Beck, on his radio show, pretended to vomit into a trash can every time he looked at McCain or heard her name. He then said, “Put some extra clothes on. Like, lots of extra clothes … has she thought about a burqa, just to be extra safe?”
It would have been easy for McCain to respond with absolute, righteous fury — Beck’s comments were insulting, fat-hating, and sexist beyond words. But instead, she showed just how empty his hatred is.
“There really is no need to make something like my participation in a skin cancer PSA into a sexist rant about my weight and physical appearance,” McCain wrote, “because I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Glenn: you are the only one who looks bad in this scenario, and at the end of the day you have helped me generate publicity for my skin cancer PSA, a cause that I feel quite passionate about.”
And then she delivered the kicker: “You’re a full-grown man with teenage daughters who are probably dealing with the sexist, body-obsessed media environment that is difficult for all women. Is this really the legacy you want to be leaving for yourself?”
Meghan McCain deserves some serious applause for standing up to a more extreme version of the sexism that most women experience daily when their bodies are criticized or scrutinized and their words are ignored. We need more women in the public sphere who point out, rightly, that when people like Beck criticize women for their appearances, they’re the ones who come out looking ugly.
To learn more about McCain’s campaign against skin cancer, you can visit this website.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.