Never. Not until Texas voters wake up and hold our “representatives” accountable for their blatant sexism toward women. Some of the lawmakers who voted for the brutal anti-abortion bill have the EQ of middle school boys who view women as mere sexual objects. Some check out porn on their iPads and state owned computers during legislative sessions.
When women like me refer to Texas Republican men as misogynists we are not practicing hyperbole. Some of the behaviors displayed during the state’s legislative sessions prove the point we make about omnipresent sexism that exists in the state’s Capitol. There is more about this issue below the fold.
The unconstitutional anti-abortion bill passed in 2013. Rick Perry had decided to run as a Republican Presidential nominee in 2012. The then Governor felt the need to do something big, bold and sweeping. Something that would attract the attention of his Party’s evangelical Christian and conservative base. Perhaps Rick Perry wanted to keep the Presidential door open for a future run after making a babbling fool of himself and the state of Texas in 2012.
Meanwhile, then Attorney General Greg Abbott had his eye trained on Rick Perry’s job for the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Both men wanted to make a lot of noise. Meanwhile, Rick Perry had skin in the anti-abortion scam.
And make noise they did. The pro-life, anti-choice politicians gained more than a fair share of help from the Republican male dominated Texas Legislature. Together, through the passage of HB2 the Republican Party all but banned abortion in the State of Texas.
Most of us who are not evangelical Christians, and some who are, knew the bill was nothing more than a political sham. The Republicans hid behind the ruse that their bill would protect women’s health. When in fact it had the opposite effect for far too many women.
The pro-choice groups knew the notion of “women’s health” was pure BS and that the ultimate goal was to make abortion all but impossible in the state. A combination of pro-choice groups joined together to do everything we could to fight HB2. But powerful conservative forces with deep pockets and influence coupled with a Republican majority had outgunned and out messaged the pro-choice groups.
Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court saw through the Texas GOP’s woman’s health care hoax and, in a 5-3 decision it very recently ruled HB2 as unconstitutional. Thanks to behind the scenes academic research and statistical data proved Texas had imposed outsized burdens on women seeking a constitutionally protected procedure.
The pro and anti-choice reactions are what one would expect in a state ruled by a voter suppressed majority of religious fanatics, crony capitalists, sexist pigs and self-serving opportunists.
The US courts took three years to undo the Texas Republican ban on women’s reproductive rights. In the meantime, devastating damage has been visited on many women who could not obtain abortions during the last three years or worse, the most desperate self-induced their own abortions. And equally depressing, how many unwanted babies were born during this time? If they are poor babies the state’s Republican lawmakers could care less about them. In fact the Texas GOP has a knack for punishing the most poor and desperate among us.
When will voters punish the authoritarian democracy loathing misogynists?
First, let’s examine the damage wrought upon Texas women.
Abortion is legal in the US and yet in Texas, right wing politicians and religious ideologues have robbed women of our constitutional right. Some female legislators joined in with the good ol’ boys and threw their sisters under the bus. Constituents will recognize their “representatives.” Here they are: Bitches for the good ol’ boys.
A new study quantifies some of those fears: At least 100,000 Texas women—and as many as 240,000—between the ages of 18 and 49 have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a report released today by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study also found that it is possible that the rate of women attempting to self-induce abortions is rising in Texas as a result of the state's additional restrictions on abortion care. The report points to previous studies that have explored the correlation between a rise in abortion restrictions and the prevalence of self-induced abortions. A 2008 national study found that about 2 percent of women reported that they tried to terminate pregnancies on their own. In 2012, a year after Texas passed several new abortion restrictions, a study of Texas women seeking care at an abortion clinic found that about 7 percent reported attempting to end their pregnancies without medical assistance before seeking clinic care.
The Republican myth makers said they had women’s safety in mind, however the passage of HB2 actually made some women’s health far more vulnerable.
"This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk," said Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the study's co-authors and a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California-San Francisco, in a press call Tuesday morning.
Some women near the southern border traveled to Mexico. There, a prescription is not required for drugs that induce abortions. Of course, poor women were among the most defenseless in seeking legal and safe abortions.
Most women cited one or more of four reasons for choosing to self-induce: They lacked the money to travel and/or pay for the procedure; their local clinic had closed; a close friend or family member had recommended self-induction; or the women feared the stigma associated with going to an abortion clinic.
Do the Republicans who imposed these unconstitutional hardships on women possess a shred of remorse? Of course not. Upon hearing the Supreme Court’s ruling Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton said they will not give up. Dan Patrick, also known as the state’s braying buffoon, said he would push for a law that the SCOTUS would pass to restrict abortions. Good luck with that boys. The SCOTUS saw straight through the deceit and overreaches. Statistical data revealed the sham called HB2. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals can no longer protect these evil doers anymore, at least where abortion is concerned.
The Texas Republican Party has been an arrogant, power crazed, sexist, greedy enterprise since at least G.W. Bush served as the state’s Governor. It probably goes back further than this but it is when W. became the Governor I found myself loathing the GOP. Perhaps it has something to do with the way the Bush bunch and their henchmen Karl Rove treated then Governor Ann Richards. Ann Richards cared about the state and its people. W. cared about himself, his family, cronies and inner circles of influence. Their ultimate goal was to further enrich themselves on the backs of taxpayers. Rick Perry did the same. When he stepped down Perry did so as a millionaire. Unlike W. Perry was not born into wealth and privilege.
So, few among us are shocked to learn the state’s Legislature functions as a good ol’ boy sexist frat house. The frat boys go to Austin to take care of the state’s business while the wives and kids stay in their hometowns.
A journalist for the Texas Observer had returned to Austin to cover the 2013 Legislative session. A young woman, she admits she had no clue as to what she was getting into during her 140 day assignment. Below is what she learned and shared.
It didn’t take me long to realize that as a woman, and especially a young woman, I’d be treated differently than my male colleagues. Within weeks, I’d already heard a few horrifying stories. Like the time a former Observer staffer, on her first day in the Capitol, was invited by a state senator back to his office for personal “tutoring.” Or, last session, when Rep. Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton interrupted Marisa Marquez during a House floor debate to ask if her breasts were real or fake.
Thankfully I never experienced anything so sexually explicit. Instead, I encountered a string of subtle but demeaning comments. One of the first interviews I conducted for the Observer, in February, was with a male senator about an anti-abortion bill. I was asking questions about whether the bill would reduce access to abortion. At the end of the interview, as soon as I turned off my recorder, he said, “How old are you, sweetheart? You look so young.”
I wish the journalist would have published the name of Senator Sleaze so other women could have been warned. The Senator’s constituents should know who represents them.
The young woman said men would hit on her several times a day. These included men she knew were married. The journalist complained she had to fend off men at work as if at a bar. Women, she learned, whether lobbyists, legislators, staff or reporters faced the same battle. Everyone had a story to share about being objectified or patronized by their male counterparts.
Even the most powerful women in the Legislature experience it. When I started interviewing women lawmakers, they all—Republican and Democrat, House and Senate, rural and urban—said that being a woman in the statehouse is more difficult than being a man. Some told of senators ogling women on the Senate floor or watching porn on iPads and on state-owned computers, of legislators hitting on female staffers or using them to help them meet women, and of hundreds of little comments in public and private that women had to brush off to go about their day. Some said they often felt marginalized and not listened to—that the sexism in the Legislature made their jobs harder and, at times, produced public policy hostile to women.
Yet, despite their strong feelings, women in the Capitol rarely talk about, except in the most private discussions, the misogyny they see all the time. It’s just the way the Legislature has always been.
Part of the problem is the state Legislature is dominated by men despite the fact that women in the state comprise over half the population. But only 20% serve in the state house.
In a state where women serve as mayors, sheriffs and CEOs, the Texas statehouse remains anachronistically male-dominated. Women comprise more than half of the state’s population, yet only about 20 percent of the Legislature—just 37 of the 181 members of both chambers. Women in leadership positions are even more scarce. There have been two female governors of Texas, zero female lieutenant governors and zero speakers of the House. That means neither chamber has ever been led by a woman.
There should be no excuse for sexist animal house behavior in our state’s Capitol. Have we no shame, Texas? The Legislature is supposed to be a governing body that passes laws and establishes budgets. The people’s house is not a frat house run by white privileged men who are accountable to no one. Or is it?
That history makes what happened on June 25—when Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered a restrictive anti-abortion bill for 11 hours—so remarkable. When the mostly male GOP majority cut her off and tried to pass the bill minutes before a midnight deadline, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte had had enough: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” The largely female crowd in the gallery erupted and, over the next 15 minutes, shouted the Senate into paralysis. It was a rare moment when women seized control of the Capitol, and the first time I’d heard a woman lawmaker in this state publicly admit she felt sidelined.
The journalist learned misogyny is rampant at the state’s Capitol. My state Senator Joan Huffman called it the last of the good ol’ boys club.
Senfronia Thompson, an African American civil rights leader representing Houston, has served in the state’s House since 1973. Despite her accomplished and distinguished record, Ms. Thompson could not escape sexism.
“When I first got here in 1973, a guy called me his ‘black mistress,’” she told me. “The males could not understand why I was offended. He was a state representative. Let me tell you what happened: He didn’t come back, he was appointed a district court judge.” Thompson says that’s a common tale in the Capitol: a male legislator can say something sexist and experience little to no consequences, and, in some cases, be promoted.
Ms. Thompson insists that, to this day, women are marginalized.
Boyish pranks are not uncommon either when bills are presented.
There’s still plenty of overt sexism, too. Take what happened in 2011 to Thompson’s House Bill 2093, a measure about contractor insurance. “I had a feeling that someone was trying to kill this bill,” she said recently. “You know, after a while, you get a feel for what the movements are. And all of a sudden, I get passed this picture of a pacifier. They had my bill [number] on it and said that I was trying to make Texas a ‘Nanny State.’” The bill had nothing to do with motherhood or childcare.
The flier had been produced by the Texas Civil Justice League—a conservative legal reform organization opposed to the bill. Thompson decided to ignore it. But that afternoon, she encountered another nanny-state flier. Instead of a pacifier, this one had an image of a woman’s breast. Thompson was outraged.
And there’s this.
During the House budget debate in April, Brenham Republican Lois Kolkhorst and Austin Democrat Dawnna Dukes were debating an amendment. As the debate intensified, their male colleagues in the chamber started meowing and making angry-cat noises. Several times each session, men in the House will make cat noises when two women are debating.
“It shows how there’s this immediate visceral response from the men to treat us in a demeaning way,” Howard said. “Certainly, two men can go at it, and it’s thought to be business as usual, maybe because we expect that behavior from them. But the fact is that it’s still very hard for women to be assertive without being thought of as overly aggressive.”
OK, there’s a lot more to the article but I think we get its gist. The state of Texas is run by a bunch of Republican men who have the emotional quotient of middle school boys who are still in the throes of puberty. Their brains are smaller than their wishfully overworked penises. Many are deeply engrossed in pornography on their iPads and state owned computers during law making sessions.
The white privileged hypocrites regard women as sexual objects and little else. The good ol’ boys cynically disparage women who try to accomplish something worthwhile and meaningful.
These are the same puerile punks that made the lives of women unconstitutionally difficult for the past three years. Many are married and they profess to be God fearing Christians. The holy ones who sit in judgement of everyone else.
Earth to evangelical Republican lawmakers. Now that we know what you do, you can’t hide behind religion anymore. According to your belief system you are sinners and you are going to burn in hell. Get it? You are going to burn, baby, burn in the deepest and hottest hole in hell. The devil owns you and your soul. You can’t buy your way out of hell, either.
There is no escaping your sins of omission and commission. At least that is what your preachers must preach every Sunday. You can’t flee to Austin for your sinning escapades and hope no one notices. Cheating on your wives. Punishing and demeaning women. Punishing poor children and their mothers. Punishing the sick and the elderly. Punishing gays. Punishing immigrants. Punishing minorities. Doing deals for yourselves. You religious types sold your souls to the devil a very long time ago.
So, Texas. Are going to continue to vote for infantile sexist swine as our representatives? After all, our lawmakers are supposed to be serious minded adults who pass laws and establish budgets that directly impact our daily lives.