The recent kerfuffle in the Michigan House of Representatives with three state Republican legislators posing with women’s fashion mags to show they “understand women” is generating the requisite amount of outcry and outrage from around the state. Having them openly mocking women in an election year is a display of such chutzpah that even Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger was forced to issue an apology. His apology managed to squeeze in Father’s Day and his daughter’s high-school graduation, apropos of absolutely nothing. The only surprise is that he didn’t mention puppies and fresh-baked apple pie.
The statewide outrage would not have been nearly so vociferous had this not been just one more act among so very many by male Republican lawmakers since they swept into power in 2010. We’ve had them call a nurse a “cunt”. They’ve silenced female lawmakers when they dared to utter the words “vagina” and “vasectomy” on the House floor. Bolger himself implied that Reps. Barb Byrum and Lisa Brown were like children who needed “timeouts”.
The list goes on and on and, taken as a whole, they show a pattern of behavior by Republican men in the legislature that is so misogynistic that men like myself are embarrassed by them.
You would think that women in Michigan would be horrified by this but that isn’t always the case. Last year at the Mackinac Policy Conference, a group of women supporting Rick Snyder had these demeaning swag gifts, calling themselves “Rick Chicks”:
— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) May 29, 2013
This year they were at it again with “Rick Chicks” stickers:
— More Women in Gvt (@MoreWomenInGvt) May 29, 2014
Republican women, at least some of them, have come to accept the demeaning labels assigned to them by a patriarchal group of men. While most of the country has evolved and discontinued to use these insulting labels, the same cannot be said of many Republicans.
However, women are largely rejecting this BS. Nationally, 59% of women (and 57% of voters) think Republicans don’t understand “the problems and concerns of women”.
Closer to home, we have Terri Lynn Land, who has, so far, remained silent on “Magazinegate”, showing how last-century many Republican women are. Despite her effort to paint herself as the candidate that understands women, Terri Lynn Land is underwater with women vs. her Democratic opponent Gary Peters by a whopping 14%. Her unfavorable rating soared from 13% in February to 30% last month. Clearly her efforts to shore up her support among women have fallen flat.
The fact is that there are fewer women in the state legislature than at any time in the past twenty years. Twenty years. It’s astonishing. Many of the gains achieved by women — both socially and politically — have been rolled back by Republican men in Michigan. It’s so bad that the few Republican women in the legislature are actually defending the actions like those of Reps. Roger Victory, Pete Pettalia, and Ben Glardon with their fashion magazines. In fact, the magazines were given to them by one of their female colleagues, Republican Rep. Gail Haines. As Amy pointed out in a previous post, Haines was right their with her male colleagues to vote for the notorious “rape insurance” law.
Another female Republican, Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, a the youngest person in the legislature, had the audacity to claim that anyone upset by this insulting act was victimizing women! “I’m so tired of Democrats making victims out of women,” she said. So, if I get her “logic” correctly, if you are upset that men are demeaning women, you’re victimizing women, not the men.
Betty Friedan must be rolling over in her grave.
Republicans have clearly convinced themselves that the November election is already won. They are so confident of this that they feel completely comfortable openly mocking 50.9% of the Michigan population.
Meanwhile, Democrats are getting organized and are funding a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) ground game in a way that has never been seen during a midterm election in Michigan. Their 2014 “Coordinated Campaign” which is designed to get out the vote statewide is unprecedented. Here’s how the Michigan Democratic Party describes it:
The Michigan Democratic Party is dedicated to electing Democrats up and down the ticket in 2014. That’s why we’re will be a statewide effort that will rival any Democratic movement in recent history. It will utilize data-driven tactics, 21st Century technology, and massive grassroots organizing.
The MDP Coordinated Campaign will be the margin of victory for our 2014 candidates up and down the ballot through an aggressive field voter contact campaign, historic absentee voter effort, and a Get-Out-the-Vote strategy that will be the margin for victory on Election Day.
They already have nearly 50 staffers on the ground, about half of which are field organizers, and currently have offices in six cities:
- West Detroit – 18409 Livernois Ave.
- Dearborn – 23918 Cherry Hill St.
- Southfield – 17100 W. Twelve Mile Rd. Suite 2
- Sterling Heights – 33804 Schoenherr Rd.
- Flint – 3518 Robert T. Longway Blvd
- Pontiac – 4 North Saginaw Street, 2nd Floor
They’ll soon be adding offices in East Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Royal Oak, East Lansing, and Kalamazoo with others to follow.
In addition to this they’ll be adding another 30-35 staffers in June, another 30 or so in July, and another 35-40 in August. By the time September arrives, they’ll have a total of ~140 organizers and ~35 other staffers on the ground, working with people in every county in the state to turn out Democrats on Election Day. As I said, it’s unprecedented for a midterm election year.
Want to get involved with this massive GOTV effort? Click HERE for more information.
So, go ahead Republicans. Alienate half the electorate with your mocking of women. Continue to believe that you have the election already won through your gerrymandering and funding from millionaires and billionaires. All the negative ads in the world won’t help you in the face of a midterm ground game like the one Democrats are waging.
You keep demeaning women all you want while denying that you’re waging a war on women. But just keep this in mind: you aren’t just alienating women. You’re alienating men like me; the grandsons and sons and husbands and friends of women who don’t see them the same way you do. We see them as equals; intelligent equals deserving of dignity, respect, power, and control over their own bodies without the interference of patriarchal men.
We’ll see you in November.
[Graphic by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog. GOTMFV photo by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]