The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Remember when Barbara Boxer sang her way into the House gym?

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) ended her sit-down interview with her grandson (who happens to be Hillary Clinton’s nephew) by announcing her Senate retirement with a rhyme:

“The Senate is the place where I’ve always made my case. For families, for the planet and the human race. More than 20 years in a job I love, thanks to California and the Lord above. So although I won’t be working for my Senate space, and I won’t be running in that next tough race, as long as there are issues and challenges and strife, I will never retire because that’s the meaning of my life.”

This farewell ditty reminded our colleague Karen Tumulty of a moment 30 years ago when Boxer used her rhyming skills to crack a key spot in the congressional boys club ceiling: allowing female access to the House gym.

Boxer, then a House member, convinced two other female colleagues to sing a parody to the tune of ‘Has Anybody Seen My Gal?’ in front of male lawmakers. According to a UPI story from July 1985 the “key stanza” went like this:

“We’re not slim, We’re not trim; Can`t you make it her and him? Can’t everybody use your gym?”

In 2012, Boxer gave an interview to NPR about gender equality where she recalled her use of song to make her case for a coed gym. In this account, she shared (and sang!) these lyrics: “Exercise, glamorize, where to go, will you advise? Can’t everybody use your gym? … Equal rights, we’ll wear tights, let’s avoid those macho fights.”

“Our colleagues were hysterical laughing, and we got into the gym,” the senator said. “So it showed that you have to use a sense of humor, you know, and do whatever it takes.”

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