8 Terrible Mike Pence Quotes About Women That Show The Vice Presidential Candidate’s True Colors
From the man who brought you one of the nation’s strictest anti-choice laws, defunded Planned Parenthood and caused an HIV outbreak, voted three times against a bill to address workplace gender discrimination, and most recently, giddily joined the presidential ticket of America’s most prominent misogynist, the many sexist comments of Mike Pence should hardly come as a surprise. Pence made headlines for a very sexist op-ed which somehow managed to cite Disney’s Mulan as evidence for why women shouldn’t be in the military, but it was rife with plenty of other misogynistic points worth noticing. Recently, yet another very sexist op-ed by the Indiana Governor and staunch social conservative, published in The Indianapolis Star in 1997, came to light and is worth dissecting.
It’s true that both essays by Pence were written nearly 20 years ago at this point, and there is a social statute of limitations on saying stupid things. That is, if you go on to offer some evidence that you’ve learned, know better, and see things differently now — none of which Pence has done. With regard to his Mulan comments, not only does it at least appear that Pence has maintained his stance, joining the ticket of a man who famously proposed preventing military rape by barring women, but he also called for a ban on gay men in the military in 2000.
As for his 1997 comments about working mothers ruining their children, well, his congressional votes against laws to promote workplace gender equality speak for themselves. That being said, it’s likely these 1990’s comments by Pence still reflect his current views of women and are worth analyzing today. Here’s a look at some of his most anti-woman comments.
“For years, we have gotten the message from the mouthpieces of the popular culture that you can have it all, career, kids and a two-car garage.”
His 1997 op-ed, “Day-care Kids,” was filled with gems like this. In Pence’s eyes, the privilege of balancing family life and career, popularly known as “having it all,” should be reserved for men. Why, you ask?
“Sure, you can have it all, but your day-care kids get the short end of the emotional stick.”
This doesn’t appear to be gendered language on the surface. But children go to day care when both of their parents are working, and they don’t have a parent to stay home with them. And I bet you can guess which parent Pence thinks should be staying at home with the kids and should be blamed for “stunting” their children’s “emotional development.” If you can’t guess, he makes it perfectly clear in another line in the op-ed.
“I am criticizing a culture that has sold the big lie that ‘Mom doesn’t matter.'”
Yes, moms do matter, and one way to support them is by allowing them to have the same choices that fathers do, without blaming them for a “generation of adults with good language and cognitive skills but stunted emotional growth” should they choose to do what men are not only expected, but encouraged to do: have a life outside the home.
Additionally, we could support mothers and let them know they matter by passing paid family leave so their husbands could be more available for the most critical part of child-rearing.
Moving right along, from his 1999 op-ed, “Women in the Mulan Military,” from back when he hosted the radio show, The Mike Pence Show:
“Disney expects us to believe that Mulan’s ingenuity and courage were enough to carry her to military success on an equal basis with her cloddish cohorts.”
Disney actually expected us to believe a woman could contribute as much to the military as men? How crazy! It’s worth noting Pence identifies Mulan multiple times as “delicate,” a key word associated with traditional constructs of femininity, and that while he acknowledges her male peers are “cloddish,” just by nature of being male, she could never be “on an equal basis” with them.
“[S]ome mischievous liberal at Disney assumes that Mulan’s story will cause a quiet change in the next generation’s attitude about women in combat and they just might be right.”
Those darned liberals back at it again with their ridiculous notions of gender equality! With this line, Pence makes it clear he actually sees young people being positively influenced by the media to understand women as strong, capable, and equal with men as a bad thing. Instead, would he like young people to watch movies with women portrayed as weak and incompetent? Does he actually, sincerely think young girls having strong female role models in the characters they watch or read about is a bad thing? Like, really?
“[M]any young men find many young women to be attractive sexually. Many young women find many young men to be attractive sexually. Put them together, in close quarters, for long periods of time, and things will get interesting … Moral of story: women in military, bad idea.”
Given his disdain for working mothers, the reality that most workplaces across the country are co-ed is probably one Pence would rather ignore. But the fact is, the danger of men and women who work closely together being attracted to each other exists in just about every professional environment. The idea that men just naturally can’t control themselves around women they’re attracted to is one popularly used to dismiss or even justify rape.
If rape or sexual violence toward women in the military were the concern here, which Trump at the very least pretended to be concerned with, Pence would probably be a vocal advocate for addressing campus sexual assault or workplace sexual harassment. However, an op-ed written by him, speaking out about either of these issues has yet to surface. His real issue with women in the military is his perception of them as inferior and incompetent. That’s why, while he acknowledges that men would also be part of the problem, he thinks women should be the ones barred from the military.
This idea from his now notorious Mulan piece speaks to his political stances on women’s issues, like reproductive rights and equal pay. It’s as if he views them as second-class human beings, and their inferiority to men means they should be discouraged from working outside the house, and additionally not permitted the autonomy over their bodies that men have. His essays might be from the ’90s, but they still manage to offer meaningful insight into his outlook on women.
For further evidence of his present-day sexist outlook on women, some more, very real, relatively recent comments by Pence:
“I fear Mrs. Pence more than I fear voters.”
In 2007, Pence claimed he supported the annual automatic pay increase for members of Congress out of fear for his wife. This light-hearted attempt at humor really just revealed that he buys into the stereotype that women who advise their husbands — you know, as partners — are angry, overbearing, and scary.
“By enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn, while still providing an exception for the life of the mother.”
As he announced the passage of his harsh abortion bill earlier this year, it’s worth noting Pence’s single-minded concern with “the unborn,” which could refer to anything from an embryo to a fetus with highly debatable constitutional personhood rights, while buying into the dangerous conservative portrayal of women who have abortions as murderers.
Meanwhile, he expressed zero concern whatsoever with the incredible toll that being forced to give birth could have on a woman, which takes us back to my previous “second-class human beings” point. Grown women with constitutional rights to make choices about their bodies literally mean less to Pence than fetuses, and he thinks they’re only entitled to make choices for themselves if they’re lives literally depend on it.
That, frankly, speaks volumes as to where Pence stands on gender equality, as do all of these awful quotes.