Republican lawmakers in Michigan set off a firestorm when a state capitol reporter tweeted a photograph of male House members reading fashion magazines with the caption, “Don’t say we don’t understand women.”
According to the reporter, Jake Neher of Michigan Public Radio, he was quoting Representative Pete Pettalia (pictured above), who “said it a couple of times, jokingly.” The other two representatives in the picture were Roger Victory and Ben Glardon.
Rep. Pettalia later explained that “[d]uring a short break on the House floor, Republican Rep. Gail Haines, a leading advocate on women’s issues in the Legislature, gave some of us magazines to read and asked to take our photo with them.”
“A member of the media then walked up behind her and snapped another photo,” he continued. “As part of that lighthearted moment, I made an off-the-cuff remark that has since been taken way out of context.”
House Democrats quickly replied with a photograph and caption of their own, “Real Women read bills not fashion mags”:
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum toldMichigan Live that the photograph constituted more evidence that “[t]he war on women is alive and well in Michigan.”
“Now three Republican lawmakers today – all white men – made an open mockery of women on the House floor by posing with fashion magazines to showcase, in their words, that they understand women’s issues,” she said.
Republican state Rep. Andrea LaFontaine toldMichigan Live that she was “tired of Democrats making victims out of women. I’m sorry if I seem fired up about it, but at the end of the day, I think I’m going to succeed in my career because of my beliefs, because of my hard work and because of the results that we as Republicans are producing in the state of Michigan.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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