The public and media are scrutinizing Kamala Harris closely since she is the first woman to serve as Vice President of the United States. Her inability to compose proper sentences has been mocked in light of her recent “word salad” mishap.
It was during an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that the event took place. Harris’s answer to a question regarding whether or not she intended to visit the US-Mexico border was rambling and contained the line, “And I haven’t been to Europe.”
Conservative critics and social media users pounced on this remark with scorn and derision. Harris was criticized for allegedly being unable to respond coherently to even the most basic of questions. Some people thought she was trying to change the subject.
It must be stressed, however, that Harris was not genuinely incomprehensible. She just misworded something, which is normal for anyone to do in an interview. Harris has a history of giving powerful speeches and interview performances.
This unfortunate event brings to light a societal problem: the ease with which people are judged for the smallest of transgressions. It is wrong to condemn someone based on a few blunders made by even the most eloquent and perceptive among them.
The unequal expectations for women in leadership roles are further shown by this occurrence. Harris is hardly the first female politician to face sexism accusations. Women in politics face more scrutiny and a higher bar to perfection than their male colleagues.
The media, it should be noted, also contributes to the spread of this sort of story. Some media have decided to ignore Harris’s initiatives and successes in favor of reporting on her occasional gaffes. This type of publicity does nothing but damage to Harris’s reputation and diverts attention away from the real problems that need to be addressed.
Finally, Kamala Harris’ recent “word salad” error should not be exploited as a joke or as an excuse to dismiss her as an intelligent or capable candidate. Instead, we should evaluate her by her actions and policies, just as we would any other politician. We also need to be conscious of the double standard of societal and media bias against women in positions of power and seek to eliminate it.