The Washington Post

GOP congresswoman says her ‘down to a woman’s level’ remarks were taken out of context


The Republican war on the “war on women” narrative became a war of words on Tuesday, as Rep. Renee L. Ellmers (R-N.C.) blasted a report that quoted her saying policy should be brought “down to a woman’s level,” during a panel last week.

The panel, organized by the Republican Study Committee, was aimed at discussing “issues facing conservative women” and featured Ellmers, several of her fellow congresswomen and other conservative leaders, according a Washington Examiner report and an announcement on the Independent Women’s Forum Web site.
When the conversation turned to how best to communicate the message to women, Rep. Ellmers offered the following advice:

“Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level,” Ellmers said. “Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that.

“We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go,” Ellmers said.

In a statement, Ellmers called the account “absolutely ridiculous” and the quote “was taken completely out of context.”

I am a woman, and find it both offensive and sexist to take my words and redefine them to imply that women need to be addressed at a lower level.

The point of Friday’s panel was to have an open conversation regarding how we communicate our values and principles to women across this country. Unfortunately, certain leftist writers have decided to take this important opportunity and engage in “gotcha” journalism. There were so many positive ideas and solutions proposed during this discussion that sought to empower women. But instead of focusing on these positive steps, some writers are cherry-picking words and using predetermined agendas to attack Republicans and increase their readership.

It is a shame that such an important moment for addressing solutions and empowering women was used to attack the open exchange of ideas. In answering a question regarding how Republicans can improve their messaging, I took the opportunity to note that everyone comes from different backgrounds and experiences — and our messaging should do the same.
If there is a problem, who is perpetuating it? Was it a room full of women laughing, bonding and sharing solutions — or a liberal woman reporter attacking the event and taking it to a dark place that does not exist?

The report, by Washington Examiner commentary writer Ashe Schow – a former editor and writer for the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America (not exactly bastions of liberalism) — comes as Republicans of all stripes are trying to find the best way to close the gender gap that has widened during the past few years.

Last week, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.), the fourth ranking Republican in the House, said in order to fight the Democratic “war on women” message, GOP women must emphasize the message of “empowerment” and individual freedom instead of expanding government.

“We need to make sure everyone in this country understands, the Republican vision is one that is about is about empowering you, the belief that you will make better decisions for yourself … than the federal government ever will,” she said.

For her part, Schow advised Republicans look elsewhere if they want to change their message to women.
“If Republicans want to change the message on women’s issues,” she wrote. “They’ll have to look outside Washington to do it.”

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