Nikki Haley Has 'Girl' Problems

Why Haley's 'little girl' remark points to a bigger conservative 'feminist' problem

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Nikki Haley is having image issues. We thought she might let her defense of her expensive European business trip stand on its own, but yesterday, during an interview with the Laura Ingraham show (around 11 minutes in) she slipped in a quick barb about Post and Courier writer Renee Dudley--the writer who revealed the expenses behind the "fiscally responsible" governor's pricey trip. "God bless that little girl at the Post and Courier," Haley said in reference to the 25-year-old Dudley. "I mean, her job is to try and create conflict, my job is to create jobs and in the end I’m going to have jobs to show for it."

Melanie Balog, the Post and Courier's digital editor and colleague of Dudley's, fired back at Haley today.

Little girl?

The governor of the great state of South Carolina called another woman a little girl?

Aren't you the same governor who just weeks ago spoke at a Center For Women event in Charleston recognizing women's suffrage and practically berated the leader of the group for correctly pointing out that South Carolina ranks worst in the nation in terms of the number of women in elected office? Well, maybe this does start to make sense.

You have a school-age daughter, so I'm pretty sure you understand the definition of the word "girl."

Dudley certainly does not need defending. Her journalistic ethics prevent her from responding to your comments, especially because she's likely to write more well-reported and well-documented stories about you... It's also worth noting that you would not have stood for such a remark had it been directed at you -- by a man or a woman.

Balog continues, "And, yet again, just like you did here in Charleston, when Ingraham asked about how conservative women are subject to intense professional scrutiny, you said the answer is simply for more women to run for office. 'When we start having more and more (women in office), people will stop picking on us.' It would be great if we could start by not picking on each other. Shame on you Nikki Haley."

Though Balog's outrage carries a distinct note of surprise, Haley's remark actually brings to mind a mentality that Nina Burleigh has argued female conservatives share. Burleigh's article for Elle recently, "The Best and Rightest," profiles the Republican party's youngest and most promising female members. Burleigh details (and is possibly fascinated) by these young women's love of guns, red meat, and motherhood, but it's their self-serving view of feminism which seems to irk her the most.

Burleigh wrote, "The young women I interviewed for this article share almost every goal of feminism. They want to be—and in many cases, already believe themselves to be—'empowered': educationally, financially, sexually. But they resist any effort to put advancing their fellow women front and center."  Burleigh adds, "That means opposing everything from gender-based affirmative action, such as government-mandated quotas for female athletes under Title IX, to equal-pay-for-equal-work laws. So on the one hand they may lament that there are only a handful of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies and only 17 female U.S. Senators...But on the other hand, they’re not going to take to the ramparts to try to increase the numbers."

The myopic, self-serving type of feminist mindset (just don't call it "feminism" Burleigh warns) Burleigh documents might help explain Haley's political record (pro-life, fiscally responsible, etc.). But it also explains why Haley might not have foreseen the damage caused by referring to a professional woman as a "little girl."  And if Burleigh's "Baby Palins," as she calls the young conservative women, are any indication, Haley still might not see the problem.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.