Not cursing in front of women, saying that women are more emotional, calling women sacred — to modern ears, these all seem like antiquated views of half of the human race. But according to a new report from NBC News, this is how Trump's chief of staff treats women.
John Kelly, the White House chief of staff who was brought in to replace Reince Priebus last summer, could be on his way out essentially because he and Trump have gotten tired of each other, according to the NBC report. Kelly denied that claim, saying that he and the president have "an incredibly candid and strong relationship." However, the report also said that Kelly has made numerous remarks that "rattled" female White House staffers. Kelly called the NBC report "total BS."
According to NBC's anonymous sources, Kelly repeatedly said that women were more emotional than men — the comment that the sources said left female staffers shaken. Other sources, however, said that Kelly hadn't had a negative effect on the workplace environment for women, instead saying that he was a "bigger gentleman" who made an effort to limit his own and others' cursing when "a lady is present."
The sources didn't dispute the claim that Kelly had called women more emotional women, and then one said "generally speaking, women are more emotional than men," agreeing with Kelly.
This isn't the first time that Kelly's view of men and women has been publicly questioned. Vox noted Kelly's handling of the Rob Porter White House scandal as another example. Former staff secretary Rob Porter resigned amid allegations that he wasn't going to be able to get the necessary security clearance, because he had abused his two ex-wives. Kelly then publicly defended Porter, calling him a "man of integrity and honor" in a statement. Vox then described how Kelly then reverted to acting surprised about the allegations against Porter when Porter resigned, but then a Washington Post report then revealed it to have been an act. Kelly, in fact, had known of the allegations against Porter for months — and still supported his position in the White House.
According to the new NBC report, then, Kelly also outwardly wondered how much more Porter would have to go through before "his honor could be restored" and why Porter's ex-wives "wouldn't just move on." This, like his other comments about women being more emotional, point to the idea that Kelly has an antiquated view of gender roles.
In a statement about how Trump handled the death of a soldier in Niger, Kelly even went so far as to say that "when [he] was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases."
This, like Kelly's attempts to avoid cursing in front of women, isn't an insult to women, per say — however, it's evidence that Kelly views women as somehow different than men. It's evidence that he believes that women require different treatment than men, and that he can't speak as freely in front of a woman as he would in front of a man. As for the statement about emotionality, while Psychology Today explains that there are differences in the ways that men and women feel and express emotions, it is a gross simplification — to the point of being a damaging falsehood — to say that women are simply "more emotional" than men.
If the NBC report ends up being true, Kelly may not remain in his position past about July. Perhaps the next person to fill the spot would seem to be more comfortable working with men and women on equal terms.