As criticism and defenses of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice swirl around, it struck me recently: this is what equality looks like. This is what so many brave women devoted their lives to – the opportunity to be judged based on our skills and abilities, rather than our gender. That is how Rice is being judged.  

Ironically, the feminist defense of Ambassador Rice’s actions in the wake of the Benghazi attack risks setting us back. Many Rice supporters, including Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH), are saying that sexism is the root of opposition to Rice’s appointment as Secretary of State—an absurd claim considering three of the past four secretaries of State have been women. In fact Fudge went so far as to say, “It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong they pick on women and minorities.” 


The real shame is the attempt by women on the left to avoid accountability with cries of sexism. It is no wonder legislators and members of the public demand to know why, days after the attack, Ambassador Rice went on five Sunday talk shows as the administration’s spokesperson and provided a false narrative of events on the ground in Benghazi. Critics are not “picking on” Ambassador Rice because she is a woman and a minority; rather Senator John McCain and others are treating her as an equal. They’re evaluating Rice as a diplomat.

While Ambassador Rice’s supporters may be unhappy that she’s run into trouble on the way to Foggy Bottom, charges of sexism do a disservice to women. With equality of opportunity comes equality of responsibility. This is what equality looks like.

Katie Todd is a guest blogger.