What This Senator Called His Female Opponent Is So Wrong

Photo: Courtesy of The Ohio Senate.
Ohio Senator Tom Patton doesn't want his opponent in the 7th house district Republican primary, Jennifer Herold, to run because she has two small children. And he said so. That idea in and of itself is ridiculous, sexist, and ridiculously sexist. But the language he chose to explain that idea is almost worse.

"The gal that's running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of two infants," Patton said of Herold in a January 18 radio interview on America's Work Force. He went on to say, "And I don't know if anybody explained to her we've got to spend three nights a week in Columbus. So, how does that work out for you?"

"Gal" is the kind of word one might get from Mad Men, not in Congress. It's not a term a 21st-century politician should use to describe his opponent. His grasp of the correct way to speak of and address fellow politicians only got worse when he described how he'd inform her she was in over her head. He explained, "I want to tell her, 'Hey Sweetie, I just got 27% of the pie in just my district, which is nine times what should have been done.'"

Herold herself said it best in a statement reacting to Patton's condescending remarks, explaining, "Only one man in my life is allowed to call me 'sweetie.'"

Calling a fellow politician "sweetie" might seem harmless, but that kind of condescension is part of what keeps women from getting involved in politics at all. Patton has since issued a statement explaining he never meant to suggest a young mother couldn't work in the legislature, saying, " I sincerely apologize if my words were misplaced on this matter." He may have apologized, but too many other politicians harbor the same sexist attitudes.

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