Brat made the initial comments last month at a private event when discussing an effort on Facebook by his constituents to get him to hold a town hall.
“Since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill no matter where I go,” he said. “They come up and say, ‘When’s your next town hall?’ And believe me, it’s not to give positive input.”
During a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday, Brat said that he should have used different words.
“So I shared it in a humorous, light-hearted gesture and people take it out of context. I meant no harm. I probably should not have repeated that phrase. In hindsight, I probably could have chosen much better words,” he said, according to the Culpeper Star-Exponent.
Becky Shields, a mom and graduate student who was one of the organizers of the Facebook effort, told The Huffington Post Brat’s comments didn’t “address the root of the problem.”
“He addressed the fact that he used a slang phrase, he did not address the fact that he used women as a punchline,” Shields said. “He did say, ‘Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to say in my grill,’ but he did not say that it wasn’t a good idea to make a joke out of his female constituents. That’s what he did when he used that phrase.”
“I would urge the congressman to ask himself why women are in his grill no matter where he goes about Obamacare instead of focusing on the fact that he was called out for using slang awkwardly,” she added.
Brat had also alleged, without evidence, that the people pushing him to hold a town hall were “paid activists.” Shields said last month the claim was “ludicrous” and that the people organizing the effort were concerned constituents who had full-time jobs.
Angry constituents have confronted several other Republicans at town halls in recent weeks and the GOP politicians similarly claimed that they were paid protesters. There is no evidence to support the allegations.
On Tuesday, Brat tried to walk back the suggestion that his constituents were paid protesters.
“A small percentage of folks load up the Facebook with comments and you can kind of tell there’s an organized pattern at a certain time an email goes out, and all of a sudden you get 50 or 100 people reading off the same script,” he said.
Shields said that Brat’s answer was just “verbal gymnastics” and “he needs to own that.”
The pressure on Brat to hold a town hall appears to have been successful. After initially saying he was too busy, the congressman said this week that he would host an in person town hall on Tuesday.
Shields said she plans to attend and ask him a substantive question (she’s interested to know where he stands on gender rating, the practice of charging men and women different prices for healthcare based on their gender and whether he believes pregnancy should be a preexisting condition).
While Shields is happy that the pressure worked, she hopes that Tuesday’s town hall is the first of many.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the outlet that reported on Brat’s Facebook Live broadcast. It was the Culpeper Star-Exponent.