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The GOP is losing women — and needs to change its tone

If we don’t make a change, we will lose an essential part of our voting bloc — permanently.

Supporters of President Donald Trump yell at supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

It still makes my blood boil.

I was in my conservative-leaning club — Young Americans for Freedom — at Utah State University. We were discussing project assignments for group members as part of an activism event on campus. One of the assignments was baking cupcakes.

“I think it would be better if the girls take care of that,” said the male vice president of our group. “That’s more of a lady thing anyway.”

Really? Baking cupcakes is only for ladies? I respected the vice president, and we agreed on many things, but his remarks demonstrate a pervasive problem on our side of the political spectrum.

Misogyny continues to be prevalent in conservative spaces, and its presence is preventing women from feeling welcomed in those circles. Unfortunately, people on the right may be waking up to this too late.

During the 2018 midterms, The Hill, a center-right news organization, hosted pollsters Anna Greenberg and Dan Cox. Both warned that Republicans are losing young women to the Democratic party — permanently. Hardly a feminist, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, too, warned his fellow Republicans in 2016 that they had a “suburban women problem.”

According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, only 45% of Americans think or personally hope the U.S. will have a woman president in their lifetime. The percentage gap widens by party. Only 26% of Republican women and 22% of Republican men say they hope to see a woman in the Oval Office. Nearly 70% of Democratic women hope for the same.

During the 2016 presidential race, when the country faced the possibility of having Hillary Clinton as chief executive, reporters asked supporters of Donald Trump how they felt about a woman president. “I don’t believe there should be a woman president,” one female Trump supporter said in an interview. “I believe in Christianity.”

“A female has more hormones; she could start a war in 10 seconds” another woman said. “Whenever I think of president, I think of man, it’s a man’s job.”

According to Utah Women and Leadership Project director Susan Madsen, these comments aren’t surprising at all. “In Europe and the United States, when people are asked to draw a picture of an ideal leader, 75% of participants draw a tall, white man,” she told me in an interview. As a result, she added, women struggle with seeing other women move up the ladder in leadership positions.

Even women already in leadership positions seem to have this problem. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter has long held the position that women shouldn’t be able to vote. Rising conservative star Candace Owens asked in 2018, “Do you guys think something bio-chemically happens to women who don’t marry and/or have children?” Responses ranged from “those women will be miserable” to “they are crazy.”

Matt Walsh, a Daily Wire host, has made similar disparaging comments about women in the past. He has said married women who choose not to have children are selfish, and women who stay single will die lonely and miserable.

Walsh also had an interesting viewpoint about President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to have an all-female communications team: “Every press release is going to be 95 sentences longer than it needs to be and include dozens of details that have nothing to do with the point.”

We cannot say we want to appeal to women when we hold these opinions. We cannot prop up women while simultaneously tearing them down.

Conservatives are losing women to the other side. If we don’t change our tone, we will lose an essential part of our voting bloc — permanently.

That’s bad for women. That’s bad for Republicans. That’s bad for us all.

Taylor Cripe is a senior at Utah State University majoring in political science and journalism.