The GOP has more problems than a math book with a distant father, but the problem that stings the worst, electorally speaking, is its problem with women. Now, party leaders are doing something about one aspect of that problem, designed especially with the hapless male conservative in mind: sensitivity training. I'm serious.
Politico had the story this morning, citing party aides who noted that the GOP's almost-comically chronic inability to speak to and about women threatened to undo all that hard gerrymandering work they'd done sooner than they'd like. Thanks to groups like EMILY's List and a voting base that skews female, Democrats have tons of women waiting in the wings to run for office. Meanwhile, the crusty oldsters har har harring in smoke filled back rooms don't know how to act right when confronted with an actual woman, or with women's issues. See: Todd Akin. Joe Walsh. Every single grey faced man who said something dumb about rape last election cycle. Their insensitivity is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Something Needed To Be Done!
Boehner urged his colleagues Thursday in response to this POLITICO story to "be a little more sensitive" when running against women.
"Some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be," Boehner said.
Boehner (R-Ohio) said bluntly that "when you look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democrat caucus than there are in the Republican caucus."
While I applaud Boehner's efforts (liberal confession: I don't think he seems like all that bad of a guy and I'd totally have coffee with him if I wasn't positive his skin would burn my retinas), a workshop on not calling colleagues "broads" isn't going to do much to undo an entire lifetime of sexist socialization. I mean, if a Republican's on the fence, it might help nudge him from "slightly offensive" to "neutral-to-slightly-inoffensive," but I have a feeling that if you're using the phrase "legitimate rape" when you're on television, you're probably beyond saving. Take this guy, for example:
Rep. Scott Rigell, who is running against a Democratic woman next year, said he wants to focus on economic issues, not social issues.
"I look at it this way — I wake up every day not thinking about the social issues," Rigell said. "I sought office because I know we can do better on job creation and I'm also concerned about our fiscal trajectory."
You wake up every day not thinking of social issues like abortion, affirmative action, equal pay, paid maternity leave, racial and sexual discrimination, same sex marriage, and affordable child care? Congratulations, Rep. Scott Rigell! You just described what academics call "privilege!"
To that point, all the sensitivity training in the world doesn't change the fact that, to a lot of voters, the GOP represents a regressive, anti-woman agenda at worst and willfully oblivious paternalism at best. And that's probably why Twitter almost instantly seized on this story and created the hashtag #GOPSensitivityTips. Here we go.
Speak to women slowly. Phrenology has proven their smaller brains are mostly filled with thoughts of shoes. #GOPsensitivitytips
— Jay Skarlow (@RockabillyJay) December 5, 2013
"A gentle pat on a woman's head does wonders when she screws up a math question. This also works on blacks." #GOPsensitivitytips
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 5, 2013
If a woman cuts her hair short, make sure to ask if she's now "into chicks or something" #GOPSensitivitytips
— Eliza Bayne (@ElizaBayne) December 5, 2013
Remember to label the sections of your bible that fit what works for our agenda in yellow, the rest doesn't matter #GOPsensitivitytips
— Kloipy (@Kloipy) December 5, 2013
"Don't say 'stewardess'–it's 'flight attendant' now. And you can't grab their ass anymore. Save that for the secretary." #GOPSensitivitytips
— Peter Waldron (@pjwaldron) December 5, 2013
— Laura Hélène (@LauraHelene) December 5, 2013
— Oz9 (@Oz90717) December 5, 2013
Always point out that your best friend is a member of the social group you're trying to oppress. #GOPSensitivitytips
— Jordan Campbell (@jocampbe) December 5, 2013
Poor dinosaurs. Why can't they catch a break?