Last week a talented, young woman full of promise came to me with a flier her family received in the mail from the Republican Party. As she handed me the mailer, with a sense of disappointment and hurt, she pointed to a line in the flier that read, 'Let's take Betty Sutton out of the House and send her back to the kitchen.'
The young woman, her heart heavy, then said, "I can't believe that this is how some people value women. And, even if they do, I can't believe that they would feel comfortable promoting it in a flier like this." And then, this bright, capable woman, who I know to be ready and able to do great things for our community and nation, said this: "I don't know why I even went to college; if this is how people treat you, what's the point?"
The mailer was supported by funds from a Republican multimillionaire challenger by the name of Tom Ganley who has decided he wants to take my place in Congress. Ganley placed a huge advertisement in the flier to build support for the campaign to - how did they put it - oh, yes, to get me "out of the House and back in the kitchen."
We have set a goal to send 15,000 signatures calling on Republican candidate Tom Ganley to unequivocally denounce the comment immediately, and for Medina County Republican Party Chairman Bill Heck, who continues to defend the belittling comment, to step down.
"I saw it, but I didn't think there was anything particularly wrong with it." -- Bill Heck, Chair, Medina County Republican Party
When confronted about the offensiveness of the sexist remark, the Republican Chair, defended the flier, saying that he had sent it to 15,000 households and had not received any complaints. Then he went on to criticize those he offended.
Later, after receiving a lot of questions and complaints about his statement, the Republican Chair attempted to minimize the offensiveness of the comment he approved about sending me "back to the kitchen," saying "I saw it, but I didn't think there was anything particularly wrong with it." He is standing by the flier, saying it was intended to "educate and engage voters."
Well, I disagree. Belittling comments devaluing women are not educational or engaging. It wasn't just in poor taste. The words reflect a callous dismissal for the millions of ways that women add value to our society and our country, whether they work within the home or outside of the home. And sadly, the words send a message to girls and young women, like the one who presented the flier to me, that they should scale back their aspirations and dreams - whatever they may be. The "educational" message of this comment to our daughters and granddaughters admonishes them not to reach, don't push too hard... stay close to the kitchen.
The problem with standing by the mailer and saying it was not intended to be offensive is that it misses the point. It was offensive and it was sent to 15,000 households.
Aimed seemingly at me, the remark hit far beyond that target; the comment devalues women across the board. From those who nurture our children and care for families to those who manage budgets in the home to entrepreneurs who run small businesses to those who build our bridges, protect our communities and our country, to those who do everything in between.
If the Republican Chair has any sense of how wrongheaded the comment was in substance, he should send a statement to the same 15,000 households explaining that it was wrong and apologize - but not to me, it's not about me - apologize to all of the women and girls who felt the force of the words suggesting that their true value is best reflected when they are put "back in the kitchen."
The new mailer could celebrate the contributions that women make in every facet of this great nation. It could unequivocally state that all women deserve more respect than the belittling statement sent out in the first mailer. The new mailer could talk about how women share their talents in countless ways that benefit us all and make our country stronger, whether through raising families and managing households, volunteering, and/or working beyond the home, providing for themselves and others, or shaping policies through service in Congress.
And, Ganley, who said he didn't read the first mailer before supporting it, could buy an ad in the new mailer to help defray the costs; this time, after he reads it.
Now, that would be educational and engaging.
To date, Ganley, has not stepped forward to demand any accountability from those who put out the mailer. Many have asked: What's he waiting for? Does he not know what to do? Or, is he afraid to stand up and do it? In either case, it's a failure of leadership.
Funny thing, I'm in the "kitchen" right now, writing this blog post. So, even if you get me in the kitchen, like other women all across this country, when I get done cooking, or eating, or talking with my family at the table, I will continue to reach. I will continue to fight for progress and for jobs and for policies that will work with and for the people I am so honored to serve...all of them, men and women, girls and boys.
We have a long campaign ahead of us, and I am counting on your support to ensure that I can keep working to protect the values you and I both care about. Please join us, by signing our petition, to demand accountability from the GOP and to stop devaluing women to further their own political ambitions.