The XX Factor

Republicans, You Need Women to Attack Women

Not a good look: Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Eric Cantor, and Rep. Dave Camp.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Earlier this week, ABC and Fusion published the results of a poll commissioned to dig a little more deeply into the “almost unfathomable gap” that divides public attitudes on “gender, race, religion and politics in America.” The results were predictable to anyone who has bothered to switch back and forth between MSNBC and Fox News—Republicans think religion should play a role in government, liberals think racism is real—but the findings on women in leadership were actually a bit surprising.

Forty-three percent of Americans say it would be a good thing if more women were elected to Congress—but the range here is from six in 10 Democrats and liberals alike to just 26 percent of conservatives and 23 percent of Republicans. Instead two-thirds or more in these latter two groups say it makes no difference to them.

Why am I surprised? Well, there has been a push lately in conservative circles to get more women in leadership roles, but apparently the ordinary Republican voter hasn’t gotten the message. They better start getting it, particularly if the GOP is going to continue its principled attacks on women’s rights. It’s one thing to have a core mission of getting rid of abortion and contraception. But these days, the optics of a bunch of grumpy old men trying to do so is even worse. If Republicans can at least scatter a few more women in brightly colored suits among the “grey-faced men with $2 haircuts” (thank you, Tina Fey), they will have to make liberals work a little harder and use more words to explain why the policies are misogynist. Right now, all liberals need to do is show some pictures and point.

So, Republican citizens, even if you don’t like the idea of getting more women into leadership roles, it’s a smart tactical move toward the long-term goal of terminating many women’s basic rights. Why am I giving you this self-defeating advice? Because I know you’re not really listening to me. I’m a woman.