It Continues to Be a Real Mystery Why Republicans Aren't Connecting with a Majority of Female Voters

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Over the weekend, Cari Christman, executive director of RedState Women, a Republican PAC in Texas "aimed at rallying women voters for GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott," was asked about equal pay for women. And this was her extraordinary answer:

Male anchor, with his back to the camera, speaking to Christman, a young thin white blonde woman, on a screen in the studio: —do you think, and does RedState Women PAC think that, uhhh, an equal pay act should be passed in this state, Cari?

Christman: We believe Texas women want and deserve equal pay. But honestly, Jason, we don't believe the Lilly Ledbetter Act is, uh, is what's going to solve that problem for women. We believe women want real world solutions to this problem, not more rhetoric. We believe that if Senator [Wendy] Davis were serious about solving this problem, she'd focus on job creation and increase access to higher education.

Anchor: So what's the solution then, do you think, for equal pay then, Cari?

Christman: Well, if you look at it, women are, are extremely busy. We lead busy lives, whether working professionally, whether we're working from home—and, and times are, um, are extremely, um, uh extremely busy. It's just a—it's a busy cycle for, for women, and we've got a lot to juggle, and so when we look at this issue, we think: What's practical? And we want more access to jobs. We want, uh, we want, uh, to be able to go to, um, get a higher education degree, at the same time that we're working or raising a family. That's common sense. And we believe that that real world solution is a more practical way to approach the problem.

Now, let me just state that I have issues with Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act being (mis)represented as having achieved "fair pay for women." Women are still (illegally) being paid less than their male counterparts all across the country, and what the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act did was increase the statute of limitations in which women who discover they are being paid unequally can sue.

That's no small thing, but it's also not the comprehensive solution to the pay gap it is frequently purported to be. That problem requires a complex set of solutions which address the intersection of gender, race, sexuality, disability, etc. that mean some women are likely to experience a more significant pay gap than other women.

Still: Ledbetter was one part of that complex set of solutions. While it's not a magical cure-all, it's more than "rhetoric." It legally empowers women in a way we were not empowered previously.


"Women are hella busy, y'all, so it's just common sense to solve the pay gap with jobs and higher education!"


Sure, yep, we need more jobs. And we need more access to affordable higher education for people who want to pursue careers where higher education is a requirement. But neither of those things has anything to do with closing the pay gap. There isn't a pay gap because of unemployment (although that drives down wages across the board); there's a pay gap because people think they can get away with paying women less. And whatever degree women have, they tend to get paid less than their (white cishet) male counterparts.

A "real world solution" to the pay gap is something very simple: An employment law that requires employers to make public their employees' salaries, so every woman working in the US would have the ability to see whether she is being paid equally.

But Republicans are never going to support that, because corporations save billions of dollars every year underpaying women. And the Republican Party pretty much exists precisely to care more about corporations than women.

Anyway. After Christman's response was roundly criticized, Beth Cubriel, executive director of the Texas Republican Party, stepped in to try to rescue her, with similarly extraordinary results:
"Men are better negotiators," Beth Cubriel said on YNN's Capital Tonight. "I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators."
HA HA PERFECT! What a perfect answer.

"Women are to blame for the pay gap because of their shoddy negotiating skills!"

There exist in this world studies that have found US women employed as "knowledge workers" tend to be less aggressive negotiators than men. But the thing about those sorts of findings is that they don't exist in a void. They exist in a culture in which women employed in such fields are forever suspended in a state of Can't Fucking Win, where if you're too "feminine," you're not taken seriously, and if you're too "masculine," you're considered a bitch. Women are expected to navigate our ways through the eye of a needle finding some perfect balance of deferential and assertive that doesn't actually exist.

That makes negotiations, which are themselves a balance of deference and assertiveness, extremely difficult for many women, even if we are otherwise competent negotiators. And it's difficult for reasons over which we have no control.

Further, there are millions and millions of US women employed in jobs where salary negotiation isn't even a thing. The lower-wage the job, the less likely there is to be any salary negotiation. If there isn't even an opportunity to negotiate, telling women to be better negotiators isn't much of a solution.

But the Republican Party pretty much exists precisely to care more about corporations than low-wage workers, too.

So in the grand game of Corporations vs. Female Workers, the Republicans aren't going to have any meaningful answers for women.

And, clearly, they're not even bothering to try to pretend otherwise anymore.

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