Male Politicians Have Said Some Awful Things About Women's Rights

by Joseph D. Lyons
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The political conversation since Donald Trump entered the presidential race has seemed like bad quotes from Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus stuck on repeat. It's been a series of awkward claims backed by offensive assumptions, and it doesn't show signs of abating. The real things male politicians have said about women's rights will make you cringe.

Compiling this list should come as quite the shocker. But in the year of President Trump, you can't forget that lately politics and an attack on women's rights go hand in hand. Unfortunately, this did not start with the 2016 election (although it sure did seem to rear its ugly head more than usual). Men have been making offensive claims about abortion, rape, feminism, and more for decades. In fact, there are enough of these terrible quotes to fill an entire wall. And not all of these quotes come from the past few months. Some of them date back years.

You'd think that politicians would be smarter than this. Male politicians are representing not just themselves but in theory their constituents too. Odds are, about half of those constituents are women. But more common sense education needs to happen before men in suits fully remove their foots from their mouths on a permanent basis. Hopefully by pointing these 17 instances out, the likelihood this ridiculousness continues lessens however slightly.

1) The Most Remembered

One of the best-remembered quotes on abortion rights of the decade. These words essentially ended Rep. Todd Akin's political career:

"If it's legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."

2) This Guy Is Wary Of Women In The Military

Republican Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton is worried about women being treated equally in the military, essentially because he thinks they're weak:

To have women serving in infantry, though, could impair the mission-essential tasks of those units. And that’s been proven in study after study, it’s nature, upper body strength, and physical movements, and speed, and endurance, and so forth.

3) Women Are Humans, Not Hosts

At least this guy isn't in Washington, D.C. Virginia state Sen. Steve Martin said:

I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.

4) The Fourth Degree For Married Rape Victims

Some 49 states in the country are also lucky that this guy doesn't have any say over their leadership. Idaho state Sen. Chuck Winder said this, again about abortion rights:

I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician with a rape issue that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape.

5) Don't Forget This Guy's In Trump's Cabinet

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Ben Carson never seemed to have the answers during the presidential campaign, but he did have some rather offensive comments, like this one about women who decide to have an abortion:

What we need to do is re-educate the women to understand that they are the defenders of these babies.

6) This One Is Vice President

Mike Pence's thoughts on working moms will make you mad. "Sure, you can have it all, but your day-care kids get the short end of the emotional stick," he wrote in an op-ed before joining the national conversation. He implied that daycare was something selfish that women should avoid to raise their kids in the home.

7) This Guy Is The President

President Trump usually keeps his own children out of his offensive, anti-women comments. But not this time. When talking about harassment at work, he said he hoped Ivanka would get a new job if she ever faced that sort of thing — not that the company would get in trouble.

“I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case," Trump said in an interview with USA Today.

8) Literally Comparing Women To Criminals

Bobby Jindal, who was the governor of Louisiana until 2016, has said some pretty offensive things about women seeking abortions:

When officers arrest criminals today, they are read their rights. Now if we're giving criminals their basic rights and they have to be informed of those rights, it seems to me only common sense we would have to do the same thing for women before they make the choice about whether to get an abortion.

9) All The Women Rand Paul Knows

Rand Paul seems to think the women he knows are the only ones who matter:

I’m scratching my head because if there was a war on women, I think they won. You know, the women in my family are incredibly successful. I have a niece at Cornell vet school, and 85% of the young people there are women. In law school, 60% are women; in med school, 55%. My younger sister’s an OB-GYN with six kids and doing great. You know, I don’t see so much that women are downtrodden; I see women rising up and doing great things.

10) Shaming Kids And Women All At Once

Jeb Bush would prefer that single mothers were shamed into getting married. That doesn't sound healthy to me:

One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame.

11) Masturbating Fetuses And Anti-Abortion Propaganda

I don't even know to introduce this ridiculous claim from Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas:

Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. They feel pleasure. Why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?

12) I Wouldn't Want To Be Deployed With This Guy

Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, called women weak and said he wouldn't want to be on a mission with one:

You throw on top of that just simply physical strength and capability and you may be out there on a mission where it’s you and a woman and if you’re injured, the ability to transport that person back. And you know, there’s just, there are physical limitations.

I'd be tempted to leave him, but not for lack of strength.

13) How Many People Can You Offend At Once?

Mike Huckabee knows how to say the worst things, in this case condemning women and abortion rights by invoking the Holocaust:

And now we are called into this incredible Holocaust of our own in America. Fifty-five million babies. Fifty-five million babies since 1973 have died in what ought to be the safest place in the world, their mother’s womb. It has become one of the most dangerous places for a baby to be.

14) Discriminatory Equal Pay Remarks

Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman (again, thank goodness he's not in Washington) doesn't agree with equal pay for equal work:

Money is more important for men. Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers. But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not “go go go.” Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.

15) This Attack On Feminism Really Happened

Jerry Falwell might not have been elected, but he was definitely a politician, running the culture wars for decades on the behalf of Republicans. He said this about feminism:

I listen to feminists and all these radical gals — most of them are failures. They've blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate men — that's their problem.

16) Better To Be A Witch Or A Lesbian?

Pat Robertson was (and is) right there with Falwell. He's got it out for equal rights for women, let alone sexual minorities:

The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

17) But People In Power Think That Too

Steve Bannon — you know, the guy in D.C. helping Trump figure out what moves to make — has said some ridiculous things about feminism too. He explained why he doesn't think progressives like conservative women:

That's why there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn't be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England. That drives the left insane and that's why they hate these women.

Sadly, not all of these quotes are from the 1990s and before. Some came from people in power today. So maybe you'll want to make your own mural in protest. But also get out there and vote, tell your representatives you don't agree with this kind of thinking, and make sure that the next generation doesn't have to deal with this kind of backwards thinking.