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Stephanie Schriock

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The GOP Says What It Means

Posted: 06/11/2013 6:07 pm

Republicans just can't help themselves. Every now and then, they end up accidentally saying what they really think about women.

Whether it's former Representative Todd "legitimate rape" Akin or Governor Chris Christie dismissing equal pay legislation as "senseless," there's an endless list of blood-boiling comments to choose from.

But then I remember that the people who are saying these things are responsible for making laws in this country. It's not just outrageous rhetoric -- every ignorant and anti-woman comment reflects an actual vote or veto that rolls back the clock on women's rights and opportunities. And there are more and more of them every day.

Last Sunday, Representative Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) argued that women don't want to combat wage discrimination with laws that promote equal pay for equal work. And she wasn't just arguing. She was legislating. Representative Blackburn voted against both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

On Tuesday, it started to snowball. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said that America's problems with education began when women started working outside the home. Which would just be grossly out-of-touch babble if he wasn't running a state that spends less on education and healthcare than almost any other, and has the highest infant mortality rate and life expectancy in the country.

On the same day, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the epidemic levels of sexual assault in the military, while an all-male subcommittee in the House held yet another hearing on a bill that would ban abortion without an exception for the health of the mother.

Republican Representative Trent Franks (AZ-08), who rarely misses an opportunity to try and take away a woman's right to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions, said that his abortion ban wasn't a war on women because "half of these babies... are just tiny little women."

I don't think I have to tell you that Representative Franks isn't a doctor. But that hasn't stopped him and the other amateur scientists in the Republican Party from legislating based on their own ignorant ideas. And Franks is holding yet another hearing on the ban today, bringing it one step closer to passing in the House.

During the hearing on sexual assault in the military, Senator Saxby Chambliss said, "Gee-whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur." Gee. Whiz. Minutes later, his colleague Senator Jeff Sessions argued that pornography was to blame for high rates of sexual assault, saying rape is happening because our culture is "awash in sexual activity."

These leaders have a fundamental misunderstanding of what sexual assault really is. So they're blaming everything else for the problem -- the presence of servicewomen, the existence of pornography, and yes, even hormones -- everything except the broken system that has allowed rapists to commit violent crimes without being punished. And then they stand in opposition to any kind of effective reform.

This week was a clear, strong reminder that who we elect to office matters. Right now, we have Republican leaders who don't value women's contribution to the workforce, their right to choose what happens to their body, or to live free from fear of sexual violence. And they are voting accordingly.

Republicans have done a lot of soul searching to try and figure out why women voters opposed them at historic levels during the 2012 election. They've questioned their message, and their messengers. But they haven't reflected on their anti-woman policies.

Instead, the GOP just wants to "re-brand," as if a make-over could cure a disease.

The truth is that Republicans can't fix their sales pitch if they have nothing to sell. This new wave of offensive rhetoric is a window to the soul of a Republican Party that has no credibility when it comes to supporting policies that actually work for women. They're not going to get away with pretending that their misogyny is an American value.

It's not all bad news. Last year EMILY's List helped elect an historic number of progressive Democratic women who are fighting back against the Republican assault on women's rights. And now there are a record number of women on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Leaders like Senators Gillibrand, McCaskill, Hagan, Shaheen, and Hirono are the reason that we are tackling the epidemic of sexual assault in the military to begin with. They, and their EMILY's List colleagues in the House, are lending a voice to women who just want to serve their country without worrying that they'll be assaulted by those who serve alongside them. And they have common sense solutions to address the problem.

Here at EMILY's List, we're going to turn our outrage in to action and elect even more progressive leaders like them who will stand up for women. If just a few of them can ignite progress, imagine what we could do with even more.

 

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