Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Republicans are not sending their best candidates to the Senate this year—which increasingly looks to be true. In newly resurfaced writings from his college days, John Gibbs, the Trump-backed Republican nominee for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, called for the repeal of the 19th amendment, claiming women’s suffrage had transformed the U.S. into a “totalitarian state” and that by expanding the electorate, it “[increased] the size and scope of government,” which “is unequivocally bad.”
While a student at Stanford in the early 2000s, Gibbs created a “thinktank” that he called the Society for the Critique of Feminism. On the think tank’s website, preserved via the Internet Archive’s ever-delightful Wayback Machine, he wrote that women don’t “posess (sic) the characteristics necessary to govern,” argued that men are smarter than women because they “think logically… without relying upon emotional reasoning,” and quite literally called patriarchal society “the best model for the continued success of a society.” Sir, who hurt you?
“Some argue that in a democratic society, it is hypocritical or unjust for women, who are 50% of the population, not to have the vote,” Gibbs’ website, for some reason, continued. “This is obviously not true, since the founding fathers, who understood liberty and democracy better than anyone, did not believe so. In addition, all people under age 18 cannot vote, although they too comprise a significant portion of the population. So we cannot say that women should be able to vote simply because they are a large part of the population.” On top of being laughably sexist, these are just… bad arguments. I’d truly expect better of a middle school debate team.
Gibbs formerly worked in Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, and in August, defeated a Republican incumbent who voted to impeach Trump.
In an almost comical statement defending the comments, a spokesperson for his campaign told CNN: “John made the site to provoke the left on campus and to draw attention to the hypocrisy of some modern-day feminists. It was nothing more than a college kid being over the top.”
The spokesperson continued, “Of course, John does not believe that women shouldn’t vote or shouldn’t work, and his mother worked for thirty-three years for the Michigan Department of Transportation!” Ha ha!
Even if the website—cited by at least two other popular anti-feminist websites to this day—was just the shenanigans of a naive young person, I, personally, at no stage in my life (let alone as an adult college student!) have ever advocated for women to lose their voting rights. I don’t think it’s much to ask for a House of Representatives candidate who hasn’t, either!
Gibbs’ lib-triggering comments on the website went beyond railing against women’s voting rights: “In the post-feminist workplace, men must bend over backwards to make sure that they do not inadvertently offend any woman who might happen to hear a joke or comment uttered in humor and harmlessness,” he said. “Numerous sexual harassment laws are introduced, which spawn a barrage of sexual harassment cases of frivolous proportions, wasting the time and energy of the courts and legal system, and taxpayer dollars.” He added that “the chemistry of having women in a masculine environment may reduce business cohesiveness and productivity from what it might have been otherwise,” which really sounds like men’s problem if they can’t keep it in their pants in a workplace!
Tempting as it may be to dismiss Gibbs’ writings as the ravings of a lone lunatic, opposition to women’s suffrage is an increasingly popular talking point on the right. Ann Coulter has championed repealing it for years. Popular podcaster Greg Medford claimed women’s suffrage was responsible for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (???) back in February. As recently as earlier this month, Rep. Lauren Boebart (R-CO) appeared confused about what the 19th amendment is at a debate. The growing popularity of challenging the 19th amendment in growing right-wing corners of the internet comes at a time when conservatives are openly challenging numerous widely accepted women’s rights, like no-fault divorce or the right to birth control.
In any case, Gibbs has clearly been aware for some time that his little website could wind up being a thorn in his side. A spokesman for the Internet Archive confirmed to CNN that Gibbs once “requested the website for the think tank be removed from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine” back in 2016— thankfully, to no avail. Let this be an important lesson for young men who start anti-feminist think tanks in college that the internet is forever.