To help GOP males avoid the egregious gaffe of saying things like “legitimate rape” this election cycle, forward-thinking House Speaker John Boehner is offering tips to fellow Republicans on what not to say to and about women. Politico reported recently that Boehner's top aides met with Republican staff to discuss how lawmakers should talk to female constituents and that the National Republican Congressional Committee has held multiple sessions to coach Republican incumbents on “messaging against women opponents.” This female-sensitivity training is only focused on rhetoric—it doesn't appear that participants are required to take the radical step of actually changing their anti-women policies.
No one has been able to find out exactly what kind of advice Republican leaders are giving each other, so I took it upon myself to imagine what a day-long GOP-messaging session would look like.
Here is my imagined schedule for the First Annual Republicans Women’s Rhetoric Retreat.
COFFEE AND INFORMAL NETWORKING WORKSHOP: MASTERING THE MUMBLE
This award-winning workshop will highlight the efforts of New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce. He has recently received flak for publishing in his memoir that “a wife is to voluntarily submit to her husband, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice.”
Boehner will propose that Pearce and fellow believers avoid this kind of straightforward description of their politics and, ideally, mumble their words whenever possible so that they can later say they were misquoted by liberal media. A few boisterous participants will then volunteer to salaciously mumble dictionary definitions of “submission.”
PANEL DISCUSSION: TWITTER TRIAGE 101
In November, Representative Bill Cassidy of Louisiana came under fire for a tweet his staffer sent out, which linked followers to a picture of Senator Mary Landrieu’s face superimposed on Mussolini’s body. The picture came after Landrieu voted to amend Senate filibuster rules for presidential appointees.
This carefully selected guest panel of unpaid bloggers will debate how well the staffer used Photoshop and will ultimately recommend that Republicans get rid of all their social media accounts. Boehner will close the panel with a breakout session, “Seriously, Stop Trying to Use the Internet!”
Everyone will eat hurriedly, but not because they’re hungry or have anywhere important to be.
LET’S DEBRIEF! A Q&A WITH TODD AKIN
In this workshop, attendees will be asked to silently read former Missouri Representative Todd Akin’s infamous testimony: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that [pregnancies from rape are] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” After the sustained silent reading exercise, Akin will lead a Q&A on how Republicans can create genuine accountability for their mistakes.
Q&A time will be limited to one minute.
CELEBRITY WORKSHOP: FROM UNCLE SUGAR TO SUGAR DADDY
This short demo from esteemed former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will take place in a room encircled by a 360-degree mirror.
A few weeks ago, Huckabee proclaimed that the Republicans were not waging a war on women but a war for women. Laws that cut back access to birth control are good for women, Huckabee argued: “If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”
In this celebrity workshop, Huckabee will be asked to face himself in the giant mirror pod and Boehner, ignoring hands for questions, will simply let Huckabee show off his game. He’ll walk participants through a step-by-step guide to rhetoric spinning, chest puffing, and then lead a short practice in winking-at-the-ladies.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: “GIRL POWER!: HOW TO DESPERATELY GRUB FOR VOTES WHEN OVER 50 PERCENT OF THE ELECTORATE IS FEMALE”
John Boehner’s Powerpoint presentation will be the highlight of the retreat! The Speaker will present on how his leadership helped let the Violence Against Women Act expire for the first time ever. Next, he will outline a few easy steps to mend that oversight and help Republicans reduce their number of daily transgressions. His one-step process is revolutionary in its simplicity: “Try talking to a woman.”
Several participants will provide a counter-point.
CLOSING CEREMONIES: THE ANCIENT ART OF SHOULDER SHRUGGING
To finish out the day, Representative Scott Rigell of Virginia will join Maine Senate candidate (and convicted domestic abuser) Erick Bennett at the podium. The lovable pair will share their advice on how to connect with women voters. Rigell’s suggestions will reflect his strong opinions that politicians should spend no time thinking about “social issues.” Bennett, meanwhile, will call attention to the ways all this domestic abuse hubbub has made him the real victim of an over-eager justice system. You’ll love to see what these two spin up!
BUFFET AND SOCIAL MIXER
Complimentary food and drink provided by Cracker Barrel.
Writer Samantha Moore lives in Harrisburg, PA, and hangs her pieces of word art at moorewrites.com. Photo illustration by Sarah Mirk.