So, how are Republican congressmen fighting the "war on women" accusation this election cycle? For Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida, the answer is apparently to have a male-only fundraiser that's explicitly focused on keeping a woman out of power. "Washington DC is broken and we need to fight for Steve Southerland to return to Congress & prevent the gavel returning to Nancy Pelosi," reads the invitation, obtained by BuzzFeed, to a March fundraiser. And so, a "small group of concerned men" are invited to get together to fundraise and strategize, without any women clogging up the joint.
The invite eschews subtlety in favor of checking off as many good ol' boy tropes as one can cram onto a postcard while leaving room for illustrations of the manly fare on offer (cigars and steak). It kicks off with nostalgia for the medieval era: "Good men sitting around discussing & solving political & social problems over fine food & drink date back to the 12th Century with King Arthur’s Round Table."
"Tell the Misses not to wait up," the invite continues, "because the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many." Also, women are buzz-killing nags who are always on you about your cholesterol levels. "Whatever you do, don't tell her the night's menu includes Irish Cheddar, Whiskey Cheddar, salt & pepper potato cakes, Irish stew with Goat Cheese dumpling, Apalachicola oyster shooter with applewood smoked salt & lemon, pastrami smoked salmon on Irish soda bread crostini, Brandade of salt cod, Shepard's Pie, Green Irish Whiskey sour jell-o....and this is just to start." Because there are four more courses after that. Tell the missus to buy you new pants.
The Southerland campaign's reaction to BuzzFeed's post is pretty great. "It is laughable that an issue is being made over an invitation to a private event hosted on Steve’s behalf six months ago," Southerland campaign manager Luke Strickland said. I've seen the "sexism is all in the past" gambit before with people arguing that all those problems were fixed 10, 20, or 40 years ago, but pulling that card for something that happened earlier this year is a bold move. They haven't had a male-only fundraiser for nearly six months, so what are you women griping about?
Southerland, by the way, is running against Democrat Gwen Graham, a politician of the female persuasion.