The RNC Growth Opportunity Book, a 100-page GOP autopsy report on the 2012 election, concluded that there was “a growing unrest within the community of Republican women frustrated by the Party’s negative image among women.” The unrest might have been due to Todd Akin’s now famous comments about “legitimate rape,” or Richard Mourdock’s remark that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The RNC autopsy report was meant to fix the GOP’s “women problem,” but eight months after the election, a fix is slow in coming.
On Tuesday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican, said at a Washington Post live event that the reason America has become “so mediocre” in educational outcomes and other areas is because “both parents started working. And the mom is in the workplace.” Bryant seemed aware that his comment might be criticized, adding: “I’m going to get in trouble. I can see the emails tomorrow.”
On last week’s Meet The Press, Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was asked by David Axelrod if she would support pay equity laws for women in the workplace.
“I think that more important than that is making certain that women are recognized by those companies,” Blackburn said. “You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want. They don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves.”
Pay equity laws are particularly important in the light of a recent Pew Poll finding that a record 40% of households are being supported primarily or entirely by women breadwinners. Of that number, 63% are single-moms. “On the topic of single mothers, most Americans (64%) say that this growing trend is a ‘big problem,’” the report said.
On the same day Gov. Bryant made his remarks about moms in the workplace, an all-male group of Republicans on a House Judiciary subcommittee voted to ban all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill was proposed by Republican Rep. Trent Franks. ”Those who incomprehensibly call trying to change this a ‘war on women’ overlook the fact that roughly half of these babies that are so torturously killed each day are just little tiny women,” Franks said, arguing that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks. That claim is still disputed by medical experts.
Time and again, Republicans have proved that attempts to rebrand their party’s messaging toward women have fallen flat because they’ve never really begun. The GOP might do well to listen to Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who voted against Franks’ bill:
“No good has ever come from an all-male committee deciding the law about a woman’s body,” he said. “This is not appropriate.”