The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

GOP candidate says feminists have ‘snake-filled heads,’ hopes daughters don’t become ‘she devils’

Courtland Sykes is a candidate for the Republican nomination in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. (Chanel Rion)

A Republican candidate who hopes to unseat a female Democratic senator in Missouri is drawing criticism for a statement he posted about women’s rights in which he called feminists “she devils” and said that he expected his fiancee to have dinner ready for him every night at 6 p.m.

“I want to come home to a home cooked dinner at six every night, one that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have my daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives,” he wrote of his fiancee, Chanel Rion, saying he wanted his world to be more Norman Rockwell — the painter known for his depictions of classic American life — than the feminist Gloria Steinem.

The candidate, Courtland Sykes, wrote that “radical feminism” has a “crazed definition of modern womanhood.”

“They made it up to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads,” he said. “Men and women are different and gender-bending word games by a goofy nest of drugstore academics aren’t going to change anything — except the fantasy life of those confused people in ivory towers.”

Sykes, who is one of several Republicans planning a run against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), posted the remarks on his Facebook page this week, though they were originally from an interview in September.

Of the daughters he envisioned himself having in the future, he wrote that he wanted them to build “home based enterprises.”

“I don’t want them [to] grow up into career obsessed banshees who [forgo] home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils,” he said.

Hillary Clinton’s loss, he wrote, showed that radical feminists had been defeated.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Sykes said that he fully supported women and that he didn’t believe his statement was demeaning to them.

“I clearly state that modern women can be anything they want,” he said. “No one is in a position to tell women what they can and can’t do.”

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He said that he did not intend the statement about “feminist she devils” to be an indictment of women with careers, noting that he counted some women he used to work with as mentors.

“There are amazing women with amazing careers,” he said. “You take Kellyanne Conway or Sarah Huckabee Sanders. These women absolutely should be celebrated.”

And he said he supported his fiancee, a conservative illustrator, and her work. In fact, she doesn’t even make dinner for him every night, he said; the two live in separate parts of the state — Sykes in Independence, near Kansas City, and Rion, his fiancee, a few hours south.

“That was just a pushback, maybe a brash pushback,”  he said. “That was basically me saying we want to support traditional family values moving forward.”

Sykes’s comments drew rebukes and jokes on social media.

“This afternoon in IS THIS REAL?” the writer Rebecca Traister posted on Twitter.

“I worry that ‘nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the top of a thousand tall buildings’ is going to be hard to fit on the front of a t-shirt,” journalist Jennifer Wright tweeted.

Some conservatives also moved to distance themselves from the comments.

“Just to be clear: No relation. At all. Thank God,” wrote the conservative commentator Charlie Sykes.

“Good luck with that, you unutterable moron,” wrote New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.

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Others questioned Sykes’s seriousness as a candidate.

“This dude is so clearly less interested in becoming a senator than he is in trying to get a job at Fox or some other conservative outlet,” wrote Craig Calcaterra, a baseball writer at NBC.

Sykes worked for the military for 10 years, as an analyst for the Navy and later for the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to his LinkedIn account. Originally from Arkansas, he announced his candidacy before he’d been a permanent resident of Missouri for a year.

The comments that Sykes posted originated as a part of a written response that Sykes sent the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a feature story the paper wrote about him last year in response to questions about women’s rights. The newspaper wrote that Sykes sent them the document after declining to do a follow-up interview.

In that document Sykes “praises Breitbart News, derides ‘Big Media,’ belittles the Muslim faith and, in a jab at the nation’s education system, says Detroit ‘is crawling with uneducated people who can’t read a breakfast menu,’” the newspaper wrote.

He called for a ban on “Muslim immigration” saying that he opposed “Muslims — and their Koran.”

“Big media has become too many dumb blonds,” he wrote according to the paper, “too many leg dangles, too many ‘tee-hee’s,’ too many hate-Trump stories, too much ‘fake news,’ too many left-biased reporters, too much mud-slinging — the credibility is shot to hell and with it big media.”

John Messmer, a political-science professor at St. Louis Community College, told the newspaper that the document read like “Trump-inspired populism on steroids.”

“I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s not parody,” Messmer said.


Posted by Courtland Sykes for Senate on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sykes’s campaign sent The Post another statement Thursday night lambasting the feminism of the “radical drug and communal hippy-visioned 1960’s.”

“The Femimarxian era is ending and I am here to help end it,” the statement said.

Though Sykes’s style bears some similarity to the president’s, he has not earned Trump’s endorsement.

The president has instead expressed support for Josh Hawley, Missouri’s Republican attorney general, who also has the backing of some of the party’s establishment.

In November, Sykes released a long video in which he defended Roy Moore against the accusations that the Senate candidate from Alabama had pursued women and teenage girls while he was an assistant district attorney more than 30 years ago.

Sykes’s Facebook page is a repository of conservative ideas and memes, including one that compares McCaskill to the character Ursula from Disney’s “Little Mermaid.”

“I don’t think anybody wants me making dinner,” Sykes told The Post. “It would just be Pop-Tarts.”

Democrats dressing for the jobs they want.

Posted by Courtland Sykes for Senate on Sunday, January 21, 2018

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