We’re more than a decade into the 21st century, and politicians are apparently still having a hard time understanding that sexism just doesn’t fly. As you’ll see below, members of both parties have been responsible for these gross soundbites, though the party breakdown may help us understand why the GOP continues to struggle in particular with female voters.
Just so we’re clear: It’s not appropriate to make creepy remarks about the appearance of female colleagues, or to air terribly false theories about the science of the female anatomy. For more on what not to do, just take a look at the comments below.
How Not To Describe The First Lady
“She lectures us on eating right while, she has a large posterior herself.”
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) in 2011, talking about the First Lady Michelle Obama’s butt while attempting to denounce her dietary initiatives.
Congress Finally Reaches An Agreement
“We in the Senate refer to Senator Gillibrand as the hottest member.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2010, remarking on the appearance of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at an event held by New York City Mayor Bloomberg. To make matters more uncomfortable, Gillibrand was in attendance.
Would Anybody Say This To A Male Anchor?
“Carol, you’re beautiful, but you have to be honest as well.”
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) in 2013, addressing news anchor Carol Costello, during a live appearance on CNN. While discussing the government shutdown, Rokita did some “mansplaining” to Costello, frequently throwing in references to her young age or addressing her by her first name when asking a rhetorical question.
What A Kind Gesture Of Respect
“I’m going to treat you like a lady … now act like one.”
Then-Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in 2010, while debating Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on the Dom Giordano radio show. Specter became frustrated when he felt Bachmann was talking over him and ended up making this belittling statement. Bachmann replied, “I am a lady.”
Boys Will Be Boys. And Sexual Predators.
“The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) in 2013, during a hearing on the sexual assault crisis in the armed forces. Chambliss was accused of excusing rape and assault as nothing more than young hormones running their course in nature.
A Legitimate Classic
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) in 2012, while getting through a television interview in St. Louis during his campaign for Senate. The statement effectively cost Akin the race, and ultimately his congressional career.
So, You’re A Scientist Now?
“Before, when my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject — because, you know, the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) in 2013, arguing against a Democratic amendment that would provide exceptions for rape and incest into a Republican anti-abortion bill.
Hillary Clinton A “Fatal Attraction”?
“Glenn Close should have just stayed in the tub.”
Rep. Steve Cohen, (D-Tenn.) in 2008, comparing Clinton, then a presidential candidate, to Close’s violent, wronged character in “Fatal Attraction.” The movie has been accused of depicting feminists as “witches.”
Isn’t Life Just One Big Matter Of Convenience?
“‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!”
Missouri state Sen. Brian Nieves (R) in 2013, seriously arguing that abortions shouldn’t be allowed in instances in which the mother’s life may be at risk. Those were just matters of convenience, Nieves suggested.
Why Men Should Make More Money Than Women
“Money is more important for men. Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers. But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not “go go go.” Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.”
Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) in 2012, referring to his vote to repeal an equal pay law designed to fight income discrimination among between men and women.
Emotional Women Would Put Our Country At Risk
“I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission, because of other types
of emotions that are involved.”
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in 2012, making the comment to CNN’s John King when asked whether he believed women should have a broader door opened to them for possibilities in combat. Santorum later clarified by saying he simply meant that “men have emotions when you see a woman in harm’s way.”
When Asked How Education In America Became So Mediocre…
“I think both parents started working. And the mom is in the work place.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) in 2013, suggesting the education system was better off when women were housewives. Understanding the controversial nature of what he’d said, Bryant then went on to say that “both parents are so pressured” to work in the modern family.
And Finally, General Of The Dick Armey
“I’m so glad you can never be my wife because I surely wouldn’t have to listen to that prattle from you every day.”
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) in 2009, saying this to Joan Walsh, a fellow panelist on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” while debating government stimulus.