Where the Women Aren't: Drinking in the Republican Lady Lounge

And there, like a mirage, was the place I belonged. A pink logo. Hip, stencilly writing, in the style of a public service announcement warning me to wear a dental dam so as not to spread mouth STD's in 1994. A door propped open, air conditioning wafting out like a snowman fart. The only thing missing was a star spangled tampon dispenser. I'd arrived at the Women's Lounge at the RNC. I'd found it, and I hadn't even been looking. A place where a lady can kick her shoes off, recline on some feminine sofas, drink a cocktail, and unwind. Naturally, most of the people there were men.

The Young Guns Woman Up pavilion (brought to you by Miriam Adelson, wife of casino magnate and deep-pocketed conservative donor Sheldon Adelson) is ostensibly a place where women's conservative groups could convene and converse and distribute literature. Men aren't expressly verboten, but all the signage is all "LADIES! HERE IS AN AREA IN WHICH YOU CAN RELAX!" There were awful floral arrangements, one of which bore an unfortunate resemblance to electron microscope pictures of the human immunodeficiency virus. And there were some ladies; the aforementioned Florida Federation of Republican Women had a contingent, and a lovely woman who designs fun, dramatic political party-themed jewelry had set up a table. Some bloggers were using the couches in the unoccupied side rooms to lay on their stomachs and take their shoes off.

Where the Women Aren't: Drinking in the Republican Lady LoungeS

The Women's Pavilion was filled with men, mostly, taking off their suit jackets and putting down their briefcases and texting and harumphing. I sat at the bar (if I had to give myself a roller derby name based entirely on this trip: Cunter S. Thompson) and examined the drink menu. I could choose between a Woman Up-Tini, a hellish mix of various juices and vodka), a Conservative Collins (just a regular Tom Collins, but when you drink it you have to think really hard about Tom repealing Dodd-Frank), The Right Stuff Mojito (astronauts? New Kids on the Block? IDK.), and Lady Lemonade, which was probably named about ten minutes after whoever was in charge of making everything fit the theme gave up. I have some suggestions: Constitutional Lawmenade. No Lemon Government Ade. Femenade. COME ON. SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE A EUPHEMISM FOR PEE. I had a Woman Up-Tini and it did not make me feel empowered. Probably because there wasn't any PCP or mandatory paid maternity leave in it.

The Pavilion is in an uncomfortably large, open common area dotted with seating and ringed by smaller rooms containing tables full of literature on various conservative lady causes, and nearly every vertical wall surface is equipped with flat screen TV's. Organizers of the pavilion probably assumed that all of the coverage during the RNC would be images of their preferred candidates at their most polished and rehearsed, shining before their Home Crowd. But the weather intervened, and the screens are playing footage of Fox News' Shep Smith in a rain slicker in downtown New Orleans, growing visibly agitated about Hurricane Isaac ("People are losing their homes! LIVES ARE CHANGING FOREVER." Etc) juxtaposed with a continuous loop of satellite images showing the churning storm languidly sliding up Louisiana. A dog being rescued, handed to a crying woman in a dirty t-shirt. Tree branches being swept down flooded streets as rain pours.

And all the women in here could talk about is Ann Romney. They're very proud of her. Will it change my vote? one woman asked. Will the young people see her and think about siding with Romney? Wasn't she beautiful?

She was, I say, sipping my Woman Up-tini out of imagined responsibility to the $6 I spent on it. At least they didn't serve it to me in a hurricane glass.



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