Republican Congressman Jason Lewis of Minnesota is coming under fire for disparaging remarks he made about women while he was a conservative radio talk show host. Before he was elected to Congress, Lewis was the host of a syndicated radio show that ran from 2009 to 2014.
One of the remarks, unearthed by CNN, was from 2011 and concerned sexual harassment allegations against then-presidential candidate Herman Cain. When Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association, two women received monetary settlements after they claimed Cain behaved inappropriately. On his radio show, Lewis questioned whether one of the women had a legitimate claim.
“I don’t want to be callous here, but how traumatizing was it?” Lewis said. “How many women at some point in their life have a man come on to them, place their hand on their shoulder or maybe even their thigh, kiss them, and they would rather not have it happen, but is that really something that’s going to be seared in your memory that you’ll need therapy for? … You’ll never get over? It was the most traumatizing experience? Come on! She wasn’t raped.”
In July, CNN uncovered more disparaging comments that Lewis made about women, including him bemoaning the fact that it is no longer acceptable to call a woman a “slut” in March of 2012. Lewis’s comments were prompted by criticism of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke, who was then a Georgetown graduate student fighting for free birth control, a “slut.” Lewis also regularly filled in for Limbaugh on his show.
“Can we call anybody a slut?” Lewis asked, adding, “It used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”
In a show from August 2012, Lewis also claimed that women are more emotional than men, which is why he believed then-President Barack Obama had an advantage with women voters.
“We all know that women tend to vote more liberal than men,” Lewis said, “It is the women who are guided by more emotion than reason. ‘Oh, here we go, stereotyping, stereotyping females once again. What are you doing?’ Well, I’m not running for anything. I’m just making an observation.”
Lewis is, in fact, running for something now. He is up for reelection to a second term in Congress. In a statement to CNN, Lewis’s campaign manager Becky Alery said that, “This has all been litigated before, and as Congressman Lewis has said time and time again, it was his job to be provocative while on the radio.”
Considering these comments, job well done.