Spokesman Calls Female Reps’ Floor Remarks “Temper Tantrum,” Just Latest Wave In Michigan GOP’s Misogyny

The House passage of Michigan’s most sweeping piece of anti-abortion legislation made headlines both locally and nationally, but has become just a blip on the map in comparison to the outrage the fallout from the debate provoked.

The following day, reports came out that two Democratic female Representatives were being punished for their behavior during the floor debate, and as a result were not being allowed to speak during debates on any other bills, either. 

Ari Adler, spokesman for the Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolton, claims the women aren’t being silenced because of using “vulgar” terms like “vagina,” but for  throwing “temper tantrums”.  Michigan Liberal posts an email that allegedly was sent to press contacts from Adler that states:

To the Capitol Press Corps,

Just to be clear, despite the misinformation being spread by Reps. Brown and Byrum, and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, there are two representatives not being recognized on the House floor today because of their actions yesterday. It has nothing to do with their gender, their religion or the topic they were discussing. All day today, we have had representatives of both parties, both genders and several different religions passionately debating important issues that will significantly impact the future of Michigan. I would urge you not to become too distracted by temper tantrums designed to score political points.



Eric at Michigan Liberal writes:

[H]e essentially confirms that Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum were punished today for saying the words “vagina” and “vasectomy” during a floor debate about a bill regulating what kind of ownership women are allowed to exercise over their reproductive systems. In fact, to do so is to throw a “temper tantrum.” In a more enlightened age, he might even suggested that both of them had “a friend in town” … wink, wink, nudge, nudge, we all know that “they” synchronize when “they” work together.

“There’s a long history of endemic sexism in the Michigan Legislature, and it’s gotten really, really bad in the last half year,” said Eric via email. The public record shows he is right. In January, Michigan Michigan Republican Party Executive Director Greg McNeilly called female Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer a “government hooker” via twitter. It appears to have been going downhill ever since, and the anti-choice superbill has brought all of that to a head.

Whether or not the silencing of the female legislators truly were another symptom of the party’s sexism, the Republican legislators are determined to say the issue was the women’s “attitude” rather than their words. Speaker Bolton, defending himself from both accusations of sexism and that he may have targetted Rep. Lisa Brown for her Jewish faith, told MLive:

We “expect professionalism. And she showed a complete lack of professionalism. To then go to her religion shows her continued inappropriateness and her continued lack of professionalism. She knows full well that had nothing to do with faith and absolutely (was) all about her lack of professionalism.”

Even the female Republicans are being brought in to reinforce the message. Assistant House Majority Leader Lisa Posthumus Lyons releases a statement of her own, where she called Whitmar a “liar” for claiming women were being silenced on the floor, and called out Brown for her lack of “professionalism” as well.

“As a woman and mother, I was personally offended by Rep. Lisa Brown’s disgraceful actions during Wednesday’s floor debate. Her comments compared the support of legislation protecting women and life to rape and I fully support Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas’ decision to maintain professionalism and order on the House floor.”

In the Michigan legislature, being “professional” means being polite, non-controversial and demure.  At least, it does if you are a woman.

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  • coralsea

    Why is it that when women speak strongly about something, they are viewed as hysterical or to be throwing a tantrum, while when men press their points emphatically, they are passionate and inspirational?  This is so annoying as well as an example of how Republican/Conservative men, in particular, view women as difficult children who must be scolded and keep in line.


    Along the same lines, I have long noticed that although women are often viewed as given to mood swings (that PMS thing, you know, which is why they can’t be president because they’d probably start a nuclear war during a PMS episode), men are rarely chastised for being tempermental — especially if one is talking about men in managerial or professional positions.  Most of the women I know take care to rein in their emotions during “that time of the month,” at least in the workplace, because they knew that they may be more sensitive and out of sorts (and yes — I know that some women don’t have discernable mood swings during their cycles).  However, some of the men I have worked with through the years see absolutely no reason not to take their annoyance and bad moods out on everyone within striking distance.  They don’t have to worry about the stigma of PMS or being labeled as a “tempermental woman,” and their behavior is excused as being passionate, driven, a go-getter, and/or as “a real leader who doesn’t accept excuses.”  (When actually, he’s often either a spoiled, entitled turd or someone in need to medication and/or better coping skills.) 


    I have to say, the vast majority of temper tantrum throwers, screamers, and pouters I have worked with have been men — and this definitely seems to hold true in politics (with a few notable exceptions on the female side).  If one watches the rage-a-holic performances of some of the Republican congressional freshmen (Joe Walsh is a prime example), one really has to wonder how this would possibly play or be tolerated without summoning the guys with the straight jackets if the same antics were committed by a woman!

  • babydoll

    Yet another double standard. Men are allowed to be angry. But if a woman is angry she’s PMSing or being irrational.

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