11/12/2013 11:53 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Double Standard for Women: Democrats and Republicans on Common Ground

As one Christian woman to another, I fully support Maine Republican House member Amy's Volk's legislation to erase prostitution convictions from the records of human trafficking victims. My God, what if Mary Magdalane had a rap sheet? We might not know He is risen.

But let's put aside the merits of the legislation, and assume we are on common ground when it comes to having compassion and doing what's right for those forced in to sex slavery.

What Maine's political party chairmen did and said following the dismissal of Volk's legislation by Democratic leaders is of interest to me.

"This is a Republican party and a conservative legislator who is desperate to try to realign a gender gap that their party faces at the polls, and a representative who needs to kind of soften her hard edges," said the Democratic Chair Ben Grant, justifying the partisan smackdown of Volk's bill.

Anyone who knows Representative Volk will attest she is hardly a woman with hard edges. "Curvaceous" is more like it. But it's not her body Grant is talking about. For lack of a Christian term, it's her chutzpah.

Grant's remarks were offensive, like GOP Chairman Bennett said to his base, before dramatically demanding an apology while invoking Volk's religion.

"For the Democrat Chairman to say that Rep. Volk is just trying to 'soften her edges' sounds patronizing and sexist...Rep. Volk is a Christian woman who feels strongly about helping people recover from difficult situations; she was involved in an effort at her church to raise money to fight human trafficking well before this bill came out...."

Did Bennett say something about Christianity and fundraising? That's a familiar tune straight from the conservative hymnal. It's not that Volk is feisty, she's doing God's work.

Either the weight of Catholic guilt or polling prompted an "apology" of sorts by Grant. His remorse was couched in intellectual terms, as if "patronizing and sexist" can be disproved with research or ignored like a whiny two-year old in the back seat of a Prius.

"I made several ill-conceived remarks last week about Representative Volk's proposed legislation. Since that interview, I have looked into the matter further and now understand that the issue of human trafficking does occur in all 50 states..."

Grant's remarks questioning the need for legislation to protect human trafficking victims were ill-conceived, no doubt, and his apology noted.

But what about the remark that Volk needs to soften her hard edges? Grant blurted out what many believe but dare not say. Snarky is for guys.

The challenge for women regardless of party in the blood sport of politics is to succeed without appearing to want success. To win a fight without being scrappy. What's admired as "bold" in men is scorned as brash in women. What's sharp is shrill.

The Democratic Party and many "liberals" are theoretically feminist but fall short of always valuing women equal to men. There is a double standard about what's politically correct. Likewise, theoretically the Republican Party is for "small government," except when it comes to dictating what women do with their bodies. Prostitutes might not have a criminal record in their world, but they also have no choice.