John Kasich, governor of Ohio and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

In a certain juvenile (usually meant literally) part of the internet, there is no more damning a dismissal of the contributions of a woman than "go to the kitchen and make me a sandwich." It's a "joke" that is so deeply lame and that is cheered by such deeply lame people that it makes non-terrible men/men over the age of 15 want to do spoken word performances of "The Yellow Wallpaper" just to compensate. It's the gender equivalent of a "not" joke, but less funny.

Which is why this clip of John Kasich speaking in Virginia on Monday quickly rocketed around the internet. "Many women," Kasich said, "who left their kitchens to go out and to go door-to-door and to put up yard signs for me." A woman stood up later. "Your comment earlier, about women coming out of the kitchen to support you?," she said. "I'll support you, but I won't be coming out of the kitchen.

Speaking to a crowd in Fairfax, Va., Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he won his first election to Ohio state Senate in 1978 by galvanizing "an army of the women" to go door-to-door for him. (Reuters)

Ouch. The comment was a bad one, even without additional context.

But some additional context is warranted.

Kasich first emerged on the national stage when he won election to the Ohio state Senate at the age of 26. This was in 1978 -- and that was the election to which he was referring, as the longer version of his comments makes clear.

In 1978, women were more likely to stay at home than they are today. The labor force participation rate -- the percentage of women old enough to work who actually were working or looking for work -- had been steadily climbing for some time prior to that and would continue to grow.


About half of women aged 16 to 64 worked one or more hours that year -- compared with nearly two-thirds who did so two decades later. (It was more common among women who didn't have children and who were unmarried.)

The campaign reinforced this in a statement, noting that "many of his early campaign teams were made up of stay-at-home moms."

So there's the context, the best explanation Kasich has to offer.

Interestingly, Kasich had actually done slightly better among women in South Carolina's primary than with men, as he has in general.

Unfortunately for him, there were probably a lot of women who couldn't make it to the polls because they were stuck at work.