A former adviser to Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons has been fired for insulting first ladies everywhere in an off-the-cuff statement about how Governor Gibbons’ divorce is not a major issue because first ladies like Dawn Gibbons are merely “window dressing.”
Olmer was responding to inquiries about Gibbons’ divorce from his former wife Dawn. Olmer downplayed the significance by explaining “Any first lady is to a large extent window dressing, just showing up for public events.” He was then fired a couple days later by Gibbons for being sexist and inappropriate.
Is it really sexist to downplay the role of first spouses? Margaret Thatcher’s husband was often dismissed as the guy who walked her into places. It is certainly true that most first ladies are more than that. They often played important roles in some areas — though such roles have always been controversial given their unelected status. In the case of Dawn Gibbons, she had some very commendable issues such as methamphetamine abuse and funding autism treatment. She also co-chaired Nevada’s Organ and Tissue Donation Task Force. As a former assemblywoman, she was no window dressing.
The question is whether such a statement deserves termination. A reprimand is clearly warranted in my view. It does diminish the role of first spouses, but was it sexist or just thoughtless?
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