This article is cross-posted from MsRepresentation, a project of the Women’s Campaign Fund, and with which I am a guest writer during the elections.
This summer, Ken Buck made a comment he may live to regret. When asked why voters should vote for him in the GOP primary over Republican opponent Jane Norton, he replied: “Because I don’t wear high heels.” That kind of thing might have gone down with the cowboys in the wild west of yore, but in 21st-century Colorado, in the age of YouTube, and most critically when women are the decisive voting constituency in many races, Buck put his proverbial low-heeled cowboy boot right into his mouth.
And now women voters are calling him on it. CQ reports that Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund is “spending big bucks to remind local voters… that Ken Buck (R) has a history of making controversial off-the-cuff remarks that are unfriendly to women.”
So WVWV is spending more than $800,000 on an ad that began airing yesterday and will run through the end of the election, making what CQ calls “a fairly large buy (669 gross rating points) in the pricey Denver market.”
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
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“Colorado women deserve respect,” a Colorado mom tells voters in the 30-second ad. “We need leaders who will stand with us, whether we’re in high heels or cowboy boots.”
“Ken Buck thinks he’s more qualified because he doesn’t wear high heels, because he’s not a woman,” she says. “This coming from a DA who refused to prosecute an admitted rapist, saying the victim had ‘buyer’s remorse.”
In fact, Buck has a problematic history with addressing rape as a District Attorney, and one victim charges him with effectively talking her out of prosecuting her assailant, despite overwhelming evidence that he was in fact guilty and despite his own admission of guilt. There is perhaps no time when a woman is more vulnerable than when facing an unwelcoming medical, forensic and legal system in reporting rape. How Buck addressed this issue speaks volumes about his understanding of sexual violence, rape, and other issues of violence against women.
Add to this Buck’s willingness to play politics with women’s lives in other ways. Buck is anti-choice. During the primary, for example, he was for Amendment 62, the so-called personhood amendment that would confer full rights on a fertilized egg from the moment of conception, effectively stripping the woman in whose body said egg was fertilized of all of her rights. Amendment 62, if passed, would outlaw contraception and abortion, make it difficult if not impossible for a pregnant woman to, for example, access chemotherapy if needed, and result in a large number of other profound changes in law and social interaction, not to mention health care.
Except Buck suddenly discovered he wasn’t really for Amendment 62 when he got past the primary. Now he’s just your usual anti-choice candidate, still for outlawing abortion and contraception, but now wanting to cater to a different base.
What I find interesting in all of this is that Republicans are crying foul on the high heels ad, by “maintain[ing] the comment was taken out of context.” And the National Republican Senatorial Committee called the ad an attempt to distract voters. To which I ask: Really? So an actual comment by an actual candidate with a history of misogynistic comments, policy positions and actions is a “distraction,” but those ads being paid for by the NRSC, the NRCC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that contain falsehoods about other candidates are not?
The double standard here appears to go well beyond what kind of shoes you wear.