The GOP really wants to recruit more ladies to help them erode women's rights

The Republican party is stepping up its efforts to attract female candidates

Published August 6, 2013 5:40PM (EDT)


Women are grossly underrepresented in both political parties in the United States, but the absence of ladies in the GOP is quite a bit more pronounced: women make up only 8 percent of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, compared to 29 percent of Democrats. There are only four female Republican senators in the 113th Congress, versus 16 Democrats.

But the GOP is now committed to closing its gender gap, because, it seems, they want more smiling female faces to help push their anti-woman agenda.

As Sarah Mimms at the National Journal notes, when the House Judiciary Committee voted in June to pass a measure banning abortion at 20 weeks, its 23 Republican members (all male) struggled to find a female Republican to bring the legislation to the floor, ultimately choosing Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn to serve as the public face for the dismantling of abortion rights across the country.

So in an effort to recruit more female candidates, the National Republican Congressional Committee has been trying to teach the party how to better "connect" with women -- and maybe even convince a few of them to run for office.

But if these women are going to succeed in politics, they should keep quiet about abortion. You know, just like their male colleagues. (Oh, wait!)

More from Mimms:

Another rookie mistake, [Republican pollster Kellyanne] Conway said, is focusing too much on "women's issues," if such a thing exists. Democratic women, she said, put too much of an emphasis on abortion, while Republican women have the opportunity to take a broader view. "There are very few Democratic women who can begin or finish a sentence without mentioning a 'woman's right to choose,' " Conway said, noting that she's actually had her researchers go through hours of remarks by Democratic members to find a single woman who failed to mention abortion. They haven't found one yet. "There is a tremendous opening for the 'whole women,' if you will, to step up and run for office as a Republican.... What do you do every week gals, do you fill up the gas tank or do you have an abortion?" she said.

Although it is worth noting that there are plenty of virulently anti-choice female Republicans out there who Conway neglects to mention (Hi, Jodie Laubenberg! How's it going, Bette Grande? Shout out, Kimberly Yee!), her framing is also revealing of why the party agenda may alienate so many other women. For many "gals," being a "whole woman" means not having to choose between filling up the gas tank or ensuring that all women have safe, legal access to basic reproductive health care.

Comparing women to livestock probably doesn't help much, either.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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