mitch mcconnell
Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

In the 2018 midterms, 59 percent of women voted for Democrats and 40 percent voted for Republicans, which adds up to a record margin of 19 percentage points—nearly double the margin by which they voted for Democrats in 2016. Coupled with the four point advantage Republicans had among men, that translates into a 23-point gender gap.

Based on what we’re seeing from Republican men lately, it sure looks like they’re doing everything possible to widen that gap. On the national level, they are accusing women who issue a “do not resuscitate” order for their babies of committing infanticide.

But not to be left out, Republican men at the state and local level want to get in on the action of widening the gap as well. For example, Florida House Speaker José Oliva referred to pregnant women last week as “host bodies.”

It wasn’t a simple slip of the tongue, either – Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” five times throughout the interview.

“It’s a complex issue because one has to think, well there’s a host body and that host body has to have a certain amount of rights because at the end of the day it is that body that carries this entire other body to term,” said Oliva, a self-described small government-enthused conservative.

This week, Republican men in the New Hampshire House of Representatives took their shot during a hearing on a “red flag law” that would allow family members and law enforcement agencies to obtain court orders that restrict gun access for individuals who may pose an immediate risk to themselves or others. That is the kind of thing promoted by NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch after the Parkland shooting—even as the organization she represents has fought passage of similar laws in most states.

Testifying before the committee in New Hampshire were members of Moms Demand Action, who recounted their stories about the role of guns in domestic violence and death by suicide. It was in that context that this happened.

The men who wore the necklaces have refused to explain their decision, which leaves the rest of us to speculate. While there is a time and place for sartorial statements, I would suggest that this was not one of those. The message they sent to the women who made the difficult choice to share their grief was to mock them as “pearl-clutchers.”

I recognize that men whose identities are bound up in patriarchal notions of masculinity will feel threatened when women stand up with Oprah Winfrey to say: “Your time is up!” But honestly, how big does the gender gap need to get before Republicans recognize that pandering to that fear is a losing strategy?

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.