Favorite

Women's work in the House 

The new Republican majority in Arkansas came with the support of female majorities in some key races.

Democrats had traditionally enjoyed an edge among female voters, partly because of reproductive rights, but also because of progressive school, home and health issues.

Times change. Two Republican women were elected to statewide offices. Female Republicans knocked off some Democratic incumbents in the legislature, propelled by their opposition to expanded health care. The early news on future legislation is equally unprogressive, but enjoys support from Republican women legislators.

Let's begin with a superficial, but symbolic happening.

New legislators had orientation last week. In the House, the dress code is always discussed. It's brief. Men must wear ties on the floor and, when they go to the well of the House to speak, must don jackets. Women are expected to dress in business attire. This year, rising Speaker Jeremy Gillam asked outgoing Republican Rep. Stephanie Malone to give the 20 women of the House an informal session on the dress code.

Was it because a new legislator appeared for orientation, as one told me, dressed for an "evening at a bar"? Malone insists it was just a routine orientation. She told the group that women shouldn't bare arms on the floor (bearing arms is another matter altogether) and avoid clothing cut "too low or too short." Most important, though, was the urging of veteran female members to always don a jacket when speaking in the well. At least one new Republican legislator, Julie Mayberry, objected. She's a former TV announcer. She likes dresses. She thinks her dress appropriate and would prefer not to throw on a jacket, too. Malone put it this way: If women want to be taken as seriously as men, they should wear a jacket, too.

I'd rather judge seriousness of purpose by legislation than outerwear. In that category, trouble is brewing.

Male and female Republicans plan to further marginalize women. Republicans likely will succeed in 2015 with legislation to prevent federal money from flowing to Planned Parenthood to educate teens on avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. Planned Parenthood offers a range of health services, including contraception, but it also provides abortion. Anybody engaging in that legal activity must be punished by the state. Legislators seem likely to make abortion providers provide still more scare information to talk women out of abortions. One female legislator wants to require presence of a doctor when a woman is given an abortion-inducing drug. Abortions can be dangerous, she says. Childbirth can be more dangerous. Perhaps a doctor should be present when women have sex to fully inform them of health risks — not to mention the potential for ungrateful children.

Republican Kansas also tells us where Arkansas may be headed. A giant tax cut in Kansas didn't produce the boom Gov. Sam Brownback envisioned. Now he's having to raid reserves and cut state services to balance the budget.

Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson is talking of a cumulative $150 million in tax cuts over the next two years. He's not yet gotten behind the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which has provided health security to a quarter-million Arkansans, including multitudes of children. If he doesn't get behind it — and if some of those new Republican women don't vote for it — its collapse will drain hundreds of millions more from state services.

Kansas is slashing pre-K education. Already beggared in Arkansas, it seems unlikely to get much love from Asa Hutchinson. He has described it as a welfare program, not a vital catch-up for kids most in need.

Early detection of kids' medical problems, primary care for adults and care for the elderly are all on the line in the Medicaid vote. These were once women's issues. But if you want to be treated like a man these days, you have to not only dress like a man, you must vote like one, too.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Speaking of Julie Mayberry, Asa Hutchinson

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Where's the outrage?

    Am I the only person, apart from federal prosecutors, outraged about the criminal enterprise that inveigled itself into a privileged position as an Arkansas taxpayer-financed human services provider to the tune, today, of $43 million a year?
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Where's the outrage?

    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Rutledge opponent hits her socializing with corporate interests

    Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has criticized Attorney General Leslie Rutledge over recent reports of her participation at private meetings where corporate interests make big contributions to a political group she heads for access to state legal officers.
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Where's the outrage?

    Am I the only person, apart from federal prosecutors, outraged about the criminal enterprise that inveigled itself into a privileged position as an Arkansas taxpayer-financed human services provider to the tune, today, of $43 million a year?
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Where's the outrage?

    • Jun 21, 2018
  • The Arkansas swamp

    The Arkansas Capitol is a fetid swamp of corruption and the bipartisan lack of concern tells you plenty.
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Where's the outrage?

    Am I the only person, apart from federal prosecutors, outraged about the criminal enterprise that inveigled itself into a privileged position as an Arkansas taxpayer-financed human services provider to the tune, today, of $43 million a year?
  • The battle over Issue 1

    The odds are that the most spending in a statewide campaign in Arkansas this year will not be for a constitutional office, but instead in a battle over a proposed state constitutional amendment.
  • Where's the outrage?

  • Trump doctrine

    Let's face it: President Trump enjoys hurting and humiliating people, and that's the thing some of his loudest supporters like about him. Making women and children cry makes him feel manly and powerful. The more defenseless, the better. He particularly enjoys punishing racial minorities.
  • Inhuman America

    Our history has included some evil passages — slavery and white supremacy, the forced removal of Native Americans from their homes, the imprisonment and dispossession of Japanese Americans during World War II, the torture of prisoners in latter-day wars — but it is also a part of our history that we came to officially regard them all with shame, as offenses to the human rights that were our original values.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Him, again

    • That's why it is better to bag babes at the bigger libraries. You get a…

    • on June 20, 2018
  • Re: Legislative boodlers

    • The U6 unemployment rate is still at 8%, partly because they can get benefits and…

    • on June 19, 2018
  • Re: Him, again

    • Regardless of my success or lack of it, I've been way ahead of Trump all…

    • on June 19, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation