Republicans are trying to learn how to talk about women (again)

But they will never learn how to talk about women!

Published December 5, 2013 2:42PM (EST)

Ken Cuccinelli              (AP/Steve Helber)
Ken Cuccinelli (AP/Steve Helber)

The Republican Party doesn't want any more "Todd Akin-style gaffes" in 2014, so they are all taking lessons on how to talk to and about women, according to a report from Politico.

These tutoring sessions will not help them, and they will continue to say deeply misogynistic things that most women (and men) find offensive. Because "Todd Akin-style gaffes" about rape, women's health, women's work and women in general are not actually gaffes, they are reflections of the party's platform and blunt articulations of most Republicans' individual voting records.

If you will remember, Akin did not coin "legitimate rape" apropos of nothing; he said it in response to a question about rape exceptions in the kinds of abortion restrictions he voted for over and over again while serving in the House of Representatives. He said something terrible, sure, but his voting record is actually more terrible.

And while the thought of some public relations expert making Ken Cuccinelli write, "I will not talk about God cursing America because of legal abortion" 1,000 times on a blackboard is a delightful one, there is actually no palatable way to say you think women lie about rape, that "hormones" are the reason there is a sexual assault crisis in the military or that stripping women of basic medical care "protects" women's health.

These are the things Republicans say, because these are the things Republicans believe. Even the ones who argue that they are only focused on "jobs" and "the economy."

For example, the Politico piece mentions Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell as an example of a member of the GOP who has adopted the strategy of focusing on "economic issues" instead of "social issues" as a way to avoid alienating women voters. (Related: Reproductive rights are an economic issue, too. But nice try!)

“I look at it this way -- I wake up every day not thinking about the social issues,” Rigell told Politico. “I sought office because I know we can do better on job creation and I’m also concerned about our fiscal trajectory.”

Too bad, then, that Rigell is a total ideologue on women's reproductive freedom and obviously thinks quite a lot about "the social issues" he says he does not think about. He voted to approve every single abortion restriction and effort to defund women's healthcare (from Planned Parenthood to the Affordable Care Act) introduced in the House since 2011.

How very moderate. What a shining example of the future of the Republican Party.

Good luck with the latest rebrand, John Boehner et al. We all look forward to the next one.

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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Gender Gop Legitimate Rape Rape Republicans Sexism Sexual Assault Todd Akin Women