For Women, Final Debate Question Falls Short

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Originally published on Huffington Post.

Since the debate on Sunday, the Internet has far and wide lauded the final question, asked by Karl Becker, for attempting to bring more positivity and friendliness into the debate. To the audience’s surprise, he asked the candidates, “regardless of the current rhetoric,” to “name one positive thing that [they] respect in one another.”

I can understand the American public’s enthusiastic response. This election season has seen an unprecedented level of toxic hate speech, accompanied by a shocking rise in hate violence nationwide. In its report on hate groups and domestic terrorism, the Southern Poverty Law Center went so far as to call 2016 a year of “extraordinary violence.” For many of us, the memory of President Obama’s exhilarating Hope campaign now seems impossibly far away.

And yet this debate question, while it represents a healthy intent, leads America in an unhealthy direction. Rather than attempting to target the roots of inequality and negativity in this election season, Becker’s prompt sought to smooth it over with a temporary veneer. While Becker called for more respect between the candidates, women were left wondering: When will we receive the respect that we deserve?

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