There's certainly plenty of blame to go around for Republican senators, who have so far failed to pass any form of health care legislation throughout a multi-day debate on the Senate floor this week. Unfortunately, a lot of that blame has been directed at Republican female senators, who were not included in the drafting of the GOP health care bill and are now voting against it. Even worse, Republican colleagues have been threatening violence against these female GOP senators, and this one tweet from MSNBC host Chris Hayes perfectly explains why that's so troubling:
In the last three days, Republican men in the house have threatened their female senate colleagues with shooting and beating.
Shockingly, this statement is accurate. On Wednesday, Republican Representative Buddy Carter was asked in an on-air interview for his thoughts on Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted against the GOP health care proposal.
"Let me tell you," Carter responded. "Somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their a-s."
This comment came just two days after fellow Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold essentially said that he wished he could aim a pistol at the women who voted against the health care bill. "There are some female senators from the Northeast — if it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style," he said, referencing the duel that caused Alexander Hamilton's death.
These statements are troubling, inappropriate, and dangerous — especially coming from men who are tasked with leading the country. Most importantly, they provide a very clear picture of the harassment that female legislators have to deal with on a daily basis.
According to a 2016 report conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, more than 80 percent of a random survey of female leaders around the globe have been subject to threats of rape, beatings, or abduction. Oftentimes, these were not empty threats. More than one-fifth of the female politicians surveyed said they were the victims of at least one act of physical violence during their terms.
Perhaps frustrated Republicans are eager for someone to blame, given that the the GOP has not yet made significant progress on its seven-year promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. But threatening physical violence exclusively against female lawmakers is far from the correct approach.
While these male representatives may not have intended for their statements to be taken seriously, their words have implications that affect the safety and security of their female colleagues, and could very negatively influence the way that others around the country talk about — and view — female leaders.