There is already a long list of sexist and disturbing comments made by Donald Trump about women's bodies. Perhaps, the most viral (and alarming) was the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which Trump told the former host Billy Bush, "When you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy." However, unfortunately, Trump is far from alone.
There are plenty of male politicians making ignorant statements about women's bodies, even in our recent news cycle. Some even serve in the White House alongside the president. While it's difficult to quantify which statements are the worst — its own depressing comment on the state of respect for women — there are more than enough to gather into a list for your consideration.
The way we talk about sex and gender in politics extends far beyond an act of symbolism and affects how policy is shaped, particularly when it comes to issues surrounding women's health care. Sadly, while women are still underrepresented politically, we have to hear male politicians talk about the female body in ignorant, often dangerous ways.
Whether they're overtly sexualizing women's bodies, spreading misinformation about reproductive rights, or just making inappropriate comments in passing, here are 11 of the worst comments male politicians have made about women's bodies.
1. Ben Carson On Re-educating Women About Abortion
While speaking at the Values Voter summit in 2013, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson claimed that women need to be re-educated about the beauty of giving birth, how the war on women doesn't exist, and abortion itself is the real war.
[T]here are those of us in this society who have told women that there's a war on them because that cute little baby inside of them ... There is no war on them, the war is on their babies ... What we need to do is re-educate the women to understand that they are the defenders of these babies.
2. Tom Coburn On Breast Implants
In 2005, during a Senate judiciary meeting reviewing a bill that would restrict class-action lawsuits, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn managed to shoehorn his love of breast implants into the discussion.
I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. ... In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier.
While this particular statement is from awhile back, it still deserves a top spot as one of the most ludicrous quotes about women's bodies.
3. Mike Pence On Mulan's Voice
Back in 1999, long before he was working in the White House, Vice President Mike Pence wrote a column about the movie Mulan. More specifically, he detailed why the character Mulan was part of liberal feminist propaganda. The column was published on a website that promoted his radio show at the time, The Mike Pence Show. His critique of Mulan featured a handful of references to how "delicate" she was, and fanned out to a critique of women in the military.
"Despite her delicate features and voice, Disney expects us to believe that Mulan's ingenuity and courage were enough to carry her to military success on an equal basis with her cloddish cohorts.
...Many young women find many young men to be attractive sexually. Put them together, in close quarters, for long periods of time, and things will get interesting. Just like they eventually did for young Mulan. Moral of story: women in military, bad idea.
4. Todd Baugh On Statutory Rape
Back in 2013, while reviewing a statutory rape case between a 14-year-old and her former high school teacher, Montana judge Todd Baugh made claims that the victim was "older than her chronological age" and therefore "as much in control of the situation" as her rapist. The rape itself had occurred in 2007, and while the case progressed, the victim, Cherise Moralez, took her own life.
Following his dangerous victim blaming comments, the Montana Supreme Court temporarily suspended Baugh.
5. Brian Greene On Spousal Rape
In 2015, a Utah state legislative committee reviewed a bill that claimed that clarified if someone can't consent, it's rape. While this seems like an obvious definition of rape, state Rep. Brian Greene made claims that having sex with an unconscious person might not count as rape if you were married.
If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious, a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically. That makes sense in a first date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity.
6. Justin Humphrey Calling Women's Bodies "Hosts"
Back in February 2017, the Oklahoma state legislator, Rep. Justin Humphrey, pushed for a bill that would require women to receive written permission from their sexual partner before getting an abortion. He claimed the bill would hold women accountable for their actions (of having sex), and even went so far as to refer to women's bodies as hosts for fetuses.
I understand that they feel like that is their body ... I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you're a "host." And you know when you enter into a relationship you're going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don't get pregnant.
7. Vito Barbieri On Women Swallowing Cameras
While reviewing an anti-abortion bill with the House State Affairs Committee in 2015, the Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri asked a doctor testifying if women could swallow a small camera in order to conduct a remote gynecological exam. The doctor informed Barbieri that would not work, because swallowed objects don't end up in women's vaginas.
8. Janusz Korwin-Mikke On How Women Are Weaker
Reductive statements about women's bodies and intelligence are certainly not limited to the United States. Back in February, the Polish politician and European Parliament member Janusz Korwin-Mikke attempted to justify the wage gap by claiming women were less intelligent and physically weaker then men.
Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent, they must earn less, that's all.
9. J.R. Doporto On Women's Rights To Get Slapped
In January, the city councilor from Carlsbad, New Mexico, J.R. Doporto responded to the Women's March on Washington by writing a Facebook post claiming that women already have rights — rights to get slapped.
Just want to give a heads up to the women! You have rights! A right to cook and a right to clean. Today is Sunday and the NFL playoffs our on! I suggest you stop your b!tch!ng/protesting during this time. Because you also have a right to get slapped!
10. Mike Huckabee On How Rape Can Have A Bright Side
Back in 2012, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee hosted Rep. Todd Akin on his radio show to talk about how rape can produce some great humans. He even went down a list that included James Robison, a past mentor Huckabee's who Newsweek described as "a charismatic TV preacher."
I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.
11. Todd Akin On Legitimate Rape
This one feels obvious, but I would be remiss not to mention it in this list. In 2012, the former Rep. Todd Akin told a St. Louis television station that abortions wouldn't be necessary for rape victims, because if it was legitimate rape, pregnancy wouldn't occur.
If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Unfortunately, there are a lot more statements where these came from. Hopefully, as we move forward, this kind of ignorance can become more of a shock and less commonplace. In the meantime, I'm not holding my breath.