Submitted by Carol Morgan on August 1, 2013 - 1:44pm
On Wednesday, I noticed an interesting piece by Olivia Messer in the Texas Observer. I sincerely hope all will read the entire article and more importantly, watch the video here: texasobserver.org
I couldn’t believe what I was reading, my jaw dropped to the floor. By the time I finished the article, there were no words to describe my anger. I’m still seething twenty-four hours later.
Here are just a few of the misogynistic activities of some of the “honorable men” of the Texas Legislature mentioned in Messer’s article:
East Texas’ Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton is best known among female legislative staffers for his unwelcome slaps on their butts. He was accused of using campaign funds for a $100 lunch at Hooters. He interrupted Representative Marisa Marquez as she debated funding for Franklin Mountain State Park with the following comment: “Young lady, would you please tell us why your mountains are better than any of our mountains and are they man-made or are they real mountains?” (Texas Monthly gave him a dishonorable mention for this)
When Representatives Kolkhorst and Dukes were having a serious debate, male legislators began making cat noises. (I’m an expert on middle school boys behavior and this is middle school boy behavior)
When Democratic Senator Judith Zaffirini proposed reserving a breast-feeding room for staffers at the Capitol, our own Republican Senator, Kel Seliger of Amarillo, responded with a facetious amendment that would have designated her office for that purpose. (I take back everything good I’ve ever said about Mr. Seliger in the past.)
Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, took the microphone after a Sefronia Thompson speech about male legislators and their misogynism. Riddle reported that some lawmakers were watching pornography on their iPads during the Legislative session.
As a Texas taxpayer, doesn’t it make you feel secure that the men who make laws that affect your daily life are spending their time oogling women’s breasts, browsing pornography on the internet during a legislative session and acting like pimply-faced adolescents in a middle school classroom? And all of this is taking place on your tax dollar. In the special sessions, this boyhood-playfulness costs us $35,000 per day!
Messer’s article illuminates but a few of the sexist incidents that take place under the pink dome. After I did some searching, I found many more:
When Sefronia Thompson was first elected to the House, one male legislator continually referred to her as his “black mistress”. When she reported this, everyone said she was making a big deal out of nothing.
Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, declared once, “I have trouble hearing women’s voices.”
Former Representative Debra Danburg introduced a bill to strengthen rape laws and a male lawmaker appeared at the back microphone and asked, “If I can’t rape my wife, who can I rape?”
Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock famously said that if Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would “cut her skirt off about 6 inches and put on some high-heel shoes,” she could pass whatever legislation she wanted.
Senator Letitia Van DePutte chastised some male Senators who were viewing pornography on their phones during a legislative session and she told them, “Keep that at home, gentlemen, not here.”
I’m sure there are more incidents, but no woman representative wants to report it because it would feed into the stereotypes that women are weak and not “fit” for the rough and tumble world of politics. As one anonymous female legislator remarked, “To be considered good, you have to be twice as prepared and twice the representative as the man. It’s such a double standard.” Leticia Van DePutte once stated, ” If a man cries, he’s seen as heartfelt. When a woman cries, she’s seen as wimpy, When a woman gets angry, she’s ‘losing it.’ When a man gets angry, he’s passionate.”
Men fail to realize what women endure in the workplace throughout their working lives—Texas Legislature or not! I recall my years as a young beginning teacher; I was the recipient of amorous advances from creepy coaches and male teachers that were old enough to be my grandfather. You could never complain. If your complaints caused the principal (usually male) to deal with the “problem” you would be fired. Even as an older counselor, there were unsolicited “advances”. In every profession, it goes on everywhere. No woman, young or old, is exempt.
Here’s a sobering thought: Many of these fine upstanding gentlemen who behave like horny thirteen-year-olds in an Austin locker room, return home to their constituencies. They visit churches, schools and civic clubs and talk about family values and religion. They live a double life. They live as hypocrites and worse, they live as misogynistic hypocrites. I wonder how they would feel if their wife or daughters and granddaughters were the recipients of this sort of treatment were the recipients of this sort of treatment by their pinstriped-bellied co-workers?
A herd of swine, no more, no less. Take a close look, this is the real face of “family values and religion” in politics.