When a group of Republican women have to assert “we like sex too,” you know things have gotten bad. But the gender gap was never more evident than in the last election so it’s not hard to understand the urgency of that assertion. According to a post-election Gallup poll, President Obama won women with 12 percentage points, Mitt Romney won men with 8, which makes the gender gap differential 20 points, the largest in recorded history.
These statistics have gotten a few of the gals on the right pretty worked up.
At a panel for conservative women on January 17th, the discussion of why Obama and the Democrats seem to resonate with women more than the Republicans was front and center. Various factions within the group, both young and old, threw theories on the table as to why that is and what to do about it. Interestingly, it seems that, despite the many disparities between women on the left and the right, one thing they do appear to agree on is the obtuseness of Republican men when it comes to women’s issues.
Todd Akin, he of “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” fame, was certainly on the tips of many tongues as they skewered their male colleagues, but once the crowd got past higher profile party embarrassments – of which there were many – it was time to find some serious solutions. Christina Hoff Sommers, a well-known conservative and anti-feminist author, one of the four women on the panel, wanted to focus on why the Republican party isn’t bringing new and younger women into the fold. In speaking about the older, male politicians who are missing the mark in terms of appealing to that contingent, Hoff Sommers had this to say:
“We have some problematic allies,” Hoff Sommers said in her opening remarks. “Conservative leaders and funders, they don’t take women’s issues seriously.
“I’m not sure what’s worse: conservatives ignoring women’s issues, or conservatives addressing them,” she said as the audience laughed. […]
Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at AEI (American Enterprise Institute), ran off a list of polling data about how women’s opinions lined up with Democratic principles more often than Republican ones. [Source: Talking Points Memo]
Ironically, their applause for one of the bigger recent successes for women in politics – the ascension of 20 women into the Senate – was mitigated by the harsh reality that 16 of those women are Democrats. But the tone-deafness of their male counterparts, and how to shift the focus to where it might better resonate for women, was clearly where they wanted to put their attention. Answers weren’t easy to define. While all could agree that they “needed more Laura Ingraham and less Rush Limbaugh,” much of the discussion was on the fact that women’s issues are either brushed aside or denigrated by men in the Republican party, or, worse, relegated only to matters of women’s reproductive health, which they see as less relevant. Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, the group hosting the event, made the point that, in fact, rising energy costs, more than contraception (which the panelists felt was a “non-issue”), was actually at the forefront of women’s concerns, yet Republican men either ignored the topic or didn’t effectively make the link to appeal to women.
Instead, as Molly Hemingway, a conservative blogger, pointed out, the Democrats went ahead and tested the issue of contraception in focus groups, found it tested well, and then decided run with it as a major issue, pulling the political conversation in a direction many at the conference felt was not an urgent one for most women. Hemingway’s solution for the problem, however, was an odd one:
Her response was to urge Republicans to respond with their own accusations that are “just as crazy,” something like, “they’re stealing your hot dogs! [Source]
Equally straw-grabbing was the applause afforded Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ (R-WA), who spoke about her suggestion, as part of the Republican House leadership, that John Boehner keep her close because it’s important to create the “optics of having visible women in the GOP.”
But the kicker had to be the headline: One of the women in the audience, Leslie Paige, 55, got up to the microphone to speak her piece. She said she works for an advocacy group that pushes for smaller government, and she had something important to say about women and the GOP:
College-aged women see Republicans as “a bunch of prudish, anti-sex, anti-reproductive freedom people.”
Paige suggested Republicans create a bumper sticker that reads, “We Like Sex Too.” After a moment’s pause, this drew a big round of applause and even some supportive hoots from the audience. [Source]
I can see it now: window decals, flags, banners, bumper stickers, web sites, party stationery, all emblazoned with: “We Like Sex Too” and “Don’t Steal Our Hot Dogs.”
You go, girls…that’s surely gonna get ‘em.