When the Women's Convention kicks off in Detroit later this month, it will be Bernie Sanders - the 76-year-old male senator from Vermont - who will take center stage to deliver the keynote address.
The controversial decision to have a man, rather than a woman, address a crowd of more than 3,000 progressive activists at the event, billed as a continuation of the Women's March on Washington DC that was staged a day after President Donald Trump's inauguration in January, sparked a furious backlash on social media.
Will & Grace star Debra Messing on Thursday emerged as a vocal critic of Sanders' pick, questioning the organizers' reluctance to choose a prominent female leader for the job.
Curious choice: When the Women's Convention kicks off in Detroit later this month, it will be Sen Bernie Sanders who will take center stage to deliver the keynote address
Women's Convention will run from October 27-29 in Detroit, offering workshops, forums and strategy sessions, with a focus on the 2018 midterm elections
'Incredibly disappointed @womensmarch,' she tweeted. 'You couldn’t find any inspiring, powerful, woman to give the opening speech? I can give u a long list.'
In a follow-up message, Messing went a step farther in her withering critique, writing: 'It’s Marching backwards. We don’t need a man to delineate our mission. Men have “spoken” for us for eons.'
According to the Women's Convention's official website, the event that will run from October 27-29 in Detroit 'will bring thousands of women, femmes and our allies...for a weekend of workshops, strategy sessions, inspiring forums and intersectional movement building to continue the preparation going into the 2018 midterm elections.'
Of the 39 speakers chosen for the conference, only two are men, including Sanders. Other participants include actresses Amber Tamblyn and Piper Perabo; Rep Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California; and Ohio politician Nina Turner, among others.
Vocal critic: Will & Grace star Debra Messing on Thursday hit out at the event organizers, questioning their reluctance to choose a prominent female leader for keynote speaker
Holding nothing back: In a follow-up message, Messing went a step farther in her withering critique of the pick
Tamika Mallory, one of the organizers of the upcoming conference, told The Detroit Free Press in an interview