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Kellie Chauvin And The Problem With Benevolent Sexism

Benevolent sexism and racism have a long, ugly history

Vicki Larson
4 min readJun 6, 2020

We have seen wives standing by their (poorly behaved) man — from Hillary Clinton to Huma Abedin to Camille Cosby, Silda Wall Spitzer, the late Elizabeth Edwards and Maria Shriver, among others.

(I have tried to find the same image of a long-suffering husband standing by his poorly behaved wife as she explains herself or apologizes before the public, but I am hard-pressed to recall a time that happened — can you?)

But Kellie Chauvin, wife of Derek Chauvin — the Minneapolis police officer charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd — is not.

Not only is she divorcing him, but she is also changing her last name. And who can blame her?

No matter what happens to Derek Chauvin when he gets to trial, his name will forever be tied to the horrific murder of Floyd and the protests that it sparked not only in Minneapolis, but across the United States and the globe.

While Abedin, Spitzer and Shriver took some time before they divorced their husbands, Kellie Chauvin is moving quickly, filing three days after his arrest, stating an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.

Just two years ago, when she was profiled in a local paper about her quest to become the first Hmong winner of Mrs. Minnesota, she had nothing but praise for her second husband of nearly a decade after an abusive first, arranged, marriage:

“Under all that uniform, he’s just a softie. He’s such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them.”

Derek Chauvin had 18 prior complaints filed against him, only two of which were “closed with discipline,” according to a Minneapolis Police Department internal affairs public summary.

Could it be that a wife wouldn’t know anything about her husband’s bad behavior (although some of the…



Vicki Larson

Award-winning journalist, author of “Not Too Old For That" & "LATitude: How to Make a Live Apart Together Relationship Work (2024) coauthor of “The New I Do,”