John Kerry’s book tour has led him onto HBO and into a bit of hot water.
The former Massachusetts senator and U.S. secretary of state appeared on Friday night’s episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” and was asked about President Donald Trump’s latest criticism of his post-career efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. Referring to the president’s tweet Thursday night, Maher asked Kerry what he had done that was so “BAD!”
“I think I told the truth,” he said.
Kerry went on to say that Trump was the “first president that I know of who spends more time reading his Twitter ‘likes’ than his briefing books or the Constitution of the United States.”
Somewhat egged on by the crowd, he continued to riff on the president’s behavior and temperament.
“He really is the rare combination of an 8-year-old boy — I mean, he’s got the maturity of an 8-year-old boy with the insecurity of a teenage girl,” Kerry said.
“A mean girl,” Maher said.
“Mean girls,” Kerry agreed.
As much as the comparison elicited whooping cheers from the “Real Time” audience, it went over less well online — even among liberal admirers of Kerry and critics of Trump, as the Washington Post reported Sunday. Kerry’s remark, they felt, evoked a demeaning and unfair stereotype of teenage girls — especially given the recent examples of remarkable youth-led activism,
I’m disappointed John Kerry said Trump has the insecurity of a teenage girl. Trump is insecure, yes. But teenage girls, if they are insecure, has a culture of toxic masculinity to blame.
— Martha Brockenbrough (@mbrockenbrough) September 15, 2018
John Kerry, I know plenty of teenage girls who conduct themselves in a very mature way.
I get what you were trying to say about Trump but dismissing his behavior as a teenage girl is beyond disrespectful.
Females mature faster than males, so Trump is acting like teenage boy.
— Mr. Weeks ✊? (@MrDane1982) September 16, 2018
John Kerry says that Trump has The “Insecurity of a Teenage Girl” and I’m like, well, actually, this is what a teenage girl looks like: pic.twitter.com/i6cOmt8bp4
— Sarah Watson (@SarahWatson42) September 16, 2018
Brianna Wu, a Boston video game developer and Democratic congressional candidate, tweeted Sunday that the stereotype of insecure, teenage girls was “dated” and “sexist,” even if Kerry’s particular remark was not.
2/ That said, I’m tired of dated, sexist stereotypes about young women. They weren’t true in the 60s, and they certainly aren’t true today.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) September 16, 2018
Others were less willing to let Kerry slide. Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern tweeted that the comment was “misogynistic bulls***.”
“The world uses teenage girls as a punching bag,” Stern wrote. “We deride their interests and mock their emotions because it makes us feel smart and mature. F*** that. They deserve better than relentless condescension.”
Republican-aligned outlets, such as Fox News, also piled on over the weekend — highlighting criticisms, even if they represented the other side of the ideological spectrum.
“Trumpism is a reason to let teenagers vote, not to insult them,” tweeted local ACLU attorney Matthew Segal.