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Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)
Rep. Renee Ellmers has made news with her advice to her fellow Republicans about how to talk to women, saying "Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level" with pie charts and graphs, but "We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life." Now Ellmers is insisting that she was taken out of context and wasn't really saying that women think at a lower level than men. So here's the context:
“Especially moms, you know we balance so many different things, you know. Or school. Think about what many of you are doing, you know, you’re trying to maintain that job, you know, you’ve got to be moving up in your career. All these different things are coming in at the same time.

“Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. You know, one of the things that has always been one of my frustrations and I speak about this all the time – many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and, you know, how the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that.

“But by starting off that discussion that way, we’ve already turned people away. Because it’s like ‘that doesn’t affect my life, I don’t understand how that affects my life.’”

And that's why Republicans need to "bring it down to a woman's level." Problem is, as Steve Benen points out, "Even taking the most charitable approach possible, it’s hardly unreasonable to think plenty of women are persuaded by charts, and plenty of men might also want to hear about issues in less abstract terms." Additionally, even by that most charitable reading possible, Ellmers is essentially suggesting that women are more stressed, balancing more tasks, than men, and that this is why they need things brought down to a lower level. But it's Ellmers' party that's standing between women and progress on fair pay, protection from pregnancy discrimination, paid family leave, and other things that—if the argument is really that women are just too overtaxed to care about higher-level policy concerns—might free women up to get excited about a graph or concerned about trillion-dollar budget matters. So "talk down to the poor tired dears rather than improving their lives" is not really an inspiring Republican message about women.

But mostly, nice try. In the final analysis, this is still an argument that women just can't be bothered with policy unless it's intensely personalized, and that's still an insult.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 07:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and Daily Kos.

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