Although the final results of the Virginia governor’s race ended up being much closer than originally expected, the spread between candidates when it came to female voters — and especially those of color — showed that the GOP still hasn’t managed to make much progress in appealing to women. It’s an ongoing problem for the party, which saw easy wins slip from its fingers in a number of senate races in 2012, primarily due to candidates that saw no problem telling women “facts” like being forced to carry a pregnancy from rape against your will is actually a gift from God.
The Republican party is determined to make things different in 2014. To help them achieve this, they have proposed tutoring their male candidates, teaching them how to, among other things, talk to their female challengers.
Yes, the men of the GOP are being sent to school to learn how to not offend women.
“Let me put it this way, some of these guys have a lot to learn,” a Republican staffer who attended the session in Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office told Politico.
That’s quite an understatement indeed. In fact, despite the fact that the 2014 campaign season hasn’t really gotten into swing yet, there’s already been copious signs that major Republicans need some serious one-on-one tutoring. The Kentucky senate race, which is a neck and neck battle between sitting senator Mitch McConell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes has already been fraught with sexist missteps on the part of the GOP, from the National Republican Senatorial Committee promoting blog posts with a sexualized, photoshopped Grimes as an “Obama Girl” to referring to her as an “empty dress.”
“The NRSC should stand for Notoriously Repeating Sexist Comments,” quipped Grimes. ”They cannot relate or connect with the women of Kentucky or our country.”
According to Politico, there will be at a minimum 10 federal races in 2014 that will pit female Democratic challengers against male GOP incumbents. The races are likely to have the fight over Obamacare in the foreground, with many of the Republican males having staked their careers on wanting to eliminate health care reform and affordable, effective insurance.
That’s before we even start on the no copay birth control issue. The GOP continues to see itself slide among women and allies of women who believe that birth control is not a divisive issue, should be easily available, should be a decision made by those who are sexually active or their families, and shouldn’t have coverage denied because some bosses wrongfully believe that it causes abortions or simply think family planning should be up to God.
The “train the candidates to be more sensitive to women” push in reality continues the agenda set right after the 2012 losses, when Susan B. Anthony List and other far right groups announced they would help their endorsees better talk about things like why abortion when the pregnant person is a victim of rape still shouldn’t be allowed. The question is, will it be at all successful?
No, writes Laura Colarusso at The Week. “Whether Republicans can win over female voters just by refining the way they talk about women remains to be seen. Indeed, where they stand on issues like access to contraception and fair pay are probably more important to female voters than whether they are on message at a debate.” She then notes a number of their problematic platform planks, including opposing equal pay, blocking expansion of Medicaid and Medicare, recklessly standing in the way of renewing the Violence Against Women Act and others that are far more hurtful to female voters than their sexist comments.
If the GOP needs help training GOP men to be “a little more sensitive” as Speaker Boehner suggests, they can find plenty of assistance on Twitter via the #howtotalktowomen hashtag. “Have a female opponent? She’ll love it when you refuse to use her title. Refer to her by first name as often as possible,” jokes activist Shelby Knox.
One piece of advice should be taken literally: ”The first step is that you stop talking TO women, and start talking WITH women.”
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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