The recent revelation of the Oregon GOP Leadership jaunt to a Palm Springs Strip Club has produced giggles among many Democrats, but generally, the "boys night out" will have few repercussions on the GOP as a whole. To be sure, each of these GOP House Leaders (Hanna, Cameron, Freeman), vets (Gilliam, Wingard) and their rookie House coherts (Wand and Sheehan) will have to dance mightly to justify their not-so-family-values-like excursion. But sadly, the electorate doesn't look at a situation like this in terms of what it reveals more broadly about the Grand Old Party.
There might as well be a “no gurlz allowed” sign over the House GOP leadership office. There are no women in leadership in the House Republican Caucus. Among the 30 GOP House members, a scant 5 are women. One woman did try to crack the ranks of House Republican leadership the same day Cameron resigned, but she was spurned by her colleagues, and another man was elected instead. When a woman sought the seat vacated by disgraced Rep. Matt Wingard, Republicans united to block her from gaining appointment. Even at the grassroots level, when Chair Rachel Lucas of the Washington County GOP became aware of Wingard's transgressions from the victim directly, she immediately informed Leader Cameron. Her reward for making the honorable, proper and very tough call? Some local WashCo GOP members are circulating a recall petition targetting her.
So let me get this right, no girls allowed, and if they do sneak in, well, it must be THEIR fault for not understanding, and quietly accepting that boys-will-be-boys.
Nationally, the picture for the GOP and women is every bit as telling. While there is certainly not parity in the Democratic ranks, the GOP female representation is pathetically meager:
17 US Senators are women; 5 are GOP. Of the 73 women in the House of Representatives, 24 are Republicans, and only one of the 9 GOP leadership positions belongs to a woman. In state legislatures, 23.6 percent of elected representatives are female - i.e. of the over 7300 state legislative seats, only 1749 belong to women. Of those 1749 seats, over 60% are held by Democrats while less than 39% are GOP. Oregon ranks 12th in female representation due to Oregon Democratic elected representatives and senators. A little less than half the combined House and Senate Democratic Caucus is female.
Raw numbers of electeds aside, the disconnect between the GOP and women is real and pervasive on so many levels. The boys demonstrate their detachment through not just GOP bachelor-esq parties, but through state legislatures that have slung forward nearly 1200 bills that curb and curtail women's health care access (Yes, this does include such efforts in Oregon.). GOP leadership in DC conducts Congressional hearings on contraception and accepts no testimony from women, and the GOP's Presidential ticket includes 2 fellas that support personhood amendments and want to abolish Planned Parenthood. Even at the local level, a recall attack is launched against GOP County leader who was doing her best to the right thing.
While I can happily - and obviously - offer the point that it makes a hellova lot more sense for a woman to be a Democrat rather than a Republican, when women DO decide to participate in the GOP, they are held at bay and shunned from leadership in legislative chambers, and outright ignored if they are mere constituents. And in Oregon, the GOP idea of a bi-gender leadership meeting is a foray to Palm Springs topless bar.
100 years ago women gained the right to vote in Oregon, but it seems as if it will take another 100 years before all the glass ceilings are shattered, especially if the GOP has anything to do with it.