"Allen West’s Women Problem"
As has been widely discussed, Florida Rep. Allen West (R), perturbed by an incident on the House floor yesterday, attacked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) via e-mail, calling her the “most vile, unprofessional, and despicable” member of the House of Representatives and saying she has “proven repeatedly” that she is “not a Lady.” Wasserman Schultz dismissed the attacks on MSNBC Wednesday, saying she was “unfazed” and “unsurprised” by West’s comments, given the pressure he is under to defend his votes “to end Medicare as we know it.”
But this isn’t the first time West has stirred up controversy with comments about women. Given his short time in office and his own accusations of sexism by political opponents, West has compiled a rather unimpressive record of associating with misogynists, stereotyping the role of women in society, and engaging in outright misogyny of his own:
West contributed to a Florida magazine that called women “oral relief stations”: Before he was elected to Congress, West was a monthly contributor to “Miami Mike’s Wheels On The Road,” a biker magazine that billed itself as the “South Florida Biker’s Bible.” The magazine has featured multiple overtly misogynistic articles, including one asking readers to imagine having sex with Wasserman Schultz. At other times, the magazine’s writers referred to women as “oral relief stations,” complained about women who said “their knees hurt,” depicted women as servants of men, and suggested that they should wear “slave chokers” as accessories.
West claimed liberal women were “neutering” American men and causing a crisis of leadership in America: In a speech to a Women Impacting Nation (WIN) meeting, West blamed liberal women — “these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women” — for “neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness.” Such women were fighting “to have our men become subservient,” West said, before bizarrely adding that this new-found subservience would continue to make the nation’s debt and deficits grow.
West compared conservative women to Spartans, asking them to “raise strong men”: In the same speech, West compared conservative women to the women of Sparta, who he claimed were the real strength behind the men of the ancient Greek city-state. The role of conservative women, West said, was to “raise strong men,” just as it was in Sparta. As Mediaite’s Frances Martel noted at the time, Spartan women had no political rights and were trained to be strong solely for the betterment of males. West’s comparison to Sparta implies that he believes “strong women are to raise strong men,” Martel wrote. “Strong women are not just to be, the way strong men are.”
This list, of course, does not include the numerous policy positions West has taken that would have adverse effects on women, including his joining the fight to defund Planned Parenthood.
Already, West has begun fundraising off of the instance with Wasserman Schultz. Meanwhile, he remains defiant about his assertion that she is unladylike and continues to defend his comments by claiming that he can’t possibly be anti-woman, since he has “been married 22 years and [has] two daughters.”