Kevin McCarthy Threatened Nancy Pelosi. Why Can Men Still Make These “Jokes?”

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The GOP’s House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at a Saturday night fundraising event that it “will be hard not to hit” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the speaker’s gavel. 

“I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it,” McCarthy said in audio posted to Twitter by Main Street Nashville reporter Vivian Jones. 



The patriarchy is rearing its ugly head and politics is at the forefront once again. 

McCarthy made the threat, (and it is a threat, whether he was “joking” or serious) while talking about the 2022 midterms. If the Republicans take control of the chamber after those elections, McCarthy will be the House Speaker.

The backlash was swift and deserved. 

When people, mostly women, some men (you can read Dean Obeidallah’s scathing opinion piece here) expressed outrage at his comment, he did what a lot of males do when called out on their misogynistic behavior — he fell back on the pathetic “I was joking” “defense.”

House Democrats condemned the “joke.” Among them were Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California), who both took to Twitter to slam McCarthy.  

Why is it that men in general, and especially men in powerful positions, feel it’s ok to make “jokes” like this? 

You’d think that in 2021, when powerful men who abuse their power are finally facing their long overdue reckoning and actually facing consequences, things would be different. 

Sadly, they’re not. 

While we’ve had glimpses of hope of clawing our way out of the patriarchy’s grip, this is a stark reminder that women are nowhere near gaining the ground we so desperately need and deserve. 

To make such a vile remark and fob it off as a poor attempt at humor says a lot about one’s character, and nothing good. 

Given that McCarthy did not vote in March to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act designed to protect women from domestic violence, no one should be surprised he thinks it’s OK to joke about hitting a woman. 

In a patriarchal world, the message we receive is that it’s absolutely fine to vote against a law protecting women from physical abuse and then “joke around” about physically abusing them. 

The reason McCarthy and 28 other Republicans gave for voting not to reauthorize the bill was an addition of new or broader measures that would close the “boyfriend loophole,” putting a stop to extending the ban on convicted abusers being allowed to possess or buy a gun. 

The bill passed, but McCarthy is on record as not wanting to close the “boyfriend loophole” because he thinks it’s an attempt to increase gun control. 

I cannot begin to process why you’d want to allow an abuser to have access to a firearm, but I also don’t make “jokes” about hitting people, so maybe there’s a disconnect. 

Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff and spokesperson quickly denounced the reprehensible comments. 

“A threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting,” Drew Hammill said in a Saturday tweet response.

Although we have made a dent in the patriarchy, remarks such as these make it feel like we’re standing still. 

And it’s truly depressing how far we have to go.


What are your thoughts on McCarthy’s words? What actions should be taken? Share with us in the comments.

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