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Mathew Helman: Scott Brown’s Anti-Woman Record and Rhetoric

Thursday, July 12, 2012


In recent weeks, you may have seen vapid new political ads on television. The ads in question focus on Republican Scott Brown, of all things, pretending to do laundry and other chores around the house. This is what constitutes Brown’s outreach to female voters.

The ads have been mocked in the media as “sappy,” “totally shallow,” and having “nothing to do with the issues.” One commentator who is generally pro-Brown even called the ads “political porn.” The utterly cosmetic superficiality of Brown’s message in these ads is undeniable. It also comes off as rather tone deaf that Brown thinks that the best way to connect with female voters is to pretend to fold laundry rather than talk about important issues.

Why on earth would Republican Scott Brown spend campaigns funds (much of those funds coming from Wall Street sources) on “totally shallow” ads devoid of substance? It turns out that, despite the rosy ads showing him helping around the house, Republican Scott Brown’s record and rhetoric as a U.S. Senator is littered with anti-woman votes and comments.

Most recently, on June 5, Republican Scott Brown joined the right-wing Republican filibuster killing the Paycheck Fairness Act, despite the fact that the bill had majority support in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the bill was to provide more effective remedies for victims of gender-based wage discrimination in the workplace. In short, the bill would help enforce the value of “Equal Pay for Equal Work.” And Scott Brown voted against it.

Adding insult to injury, Republican Scott Brown defended his vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act by calling the bill a “job-killing burden” on business. Particularly for the women reading this, allow me to ask: do you think paying a woman the same as a man for doing the same work is a burden? I think equal pay for equal work is the way it ought to be. Apparently, Brown thinks otherwise.

Earlier this year, Republican Scott Brown not only supported but also co-sponsored the right-wing, anti-woman “Blunt Amendment.” This measure effectively would allow any employer to deny any medical coverage for any employee for any reason. A male employer could decide to deny female employees’ coverage of contraception or preventative cancer screenings if he could cite some imagined moral objection. Surveys have shown that 98% of women use contraception at some point in their lives; but, Republican Scott Brown voted to force women to get the OK from their employers first.

The Blunt Amendment was right in the wheelhouse of right-wing social crusaders like failed Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum. It is awfully telling that Republican Scott Brown would side with Santorum on this issue instead of the women of Massachusetts.

Republican Scott Brown’s votes on issues haven’t been the only anti-woman aspect of his record. His rhetoric has also been fairly shameful.

One notorious episode, from March of this year, saw Republican Scott Brown being asked what he has learned from the smart, accomplished women in his family. His flip response: “How to cook.” The sexist quip sounds like it should come from a century-old etiquette manual rather than the mouth of a U.S. Senator in 2012.

Another particularly creepy moment occurred in April of this year, when Republican Scott Brown was campaigning at a brewery in Canton. A female reporter from a major Boston publication was covering the event, and Brown urged her to try more of the brewery’s beer samples than she wanted to. He egged her on with the line, “I’ve seen you in the bars before; don’t act like you’ve never been to a bar.” Topping even that, Brown quipped, “We’re gonna have her dancing in the back of the truck.” Yes, that sleazy line came out of the mouth of a U.S. Senator, our own Republican Scott Brown.

To the mothers and fathers of daughters reading this, I ask: how would you react if your daughter’s date (much less a U.S. Senator) spoke to and about your daughter like this? Would you want your daughter to continue dating that person? I wouldn’t think so.

Republican Scott Brown’s voting record, especially on high profile issues like equal pay and health care, has proven to be anti-woman. Further, his rhetoric on the campaign trail has been – I’ll put it politely – “quaint.” This might explain why Brown is releasing television ads showing him pretending to fold laundry. He thinks this is the way to connect with women and earn their votes. Unfortunately for Brown, most people see it for what it is, “totally shallow” pandering that just falls flat.

Mathew Helman currently serves as Communications Director of ProgressMass. Mathew, a proud product of the Framingham public schools, has spent the last ten years working in Massachusetts government and politics.


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