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Lawmaker Calls Women “Eye Candy”

Recently, a North Carolina Republican lawmaker, Mark Walker, made a baffling remark during a press conference about the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) role in the current political climate.

Walker is also a pastor serving a second term as a North Carolina congressman and is only serving his first term as the chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Since its founding in 1973, the Republican Study Committee has served the House Republicans within the conservative caucus in order to “limit government, preserve values, and balance the budget.”

Instead of applauding the hard work of the men and women who make up the Republican Study Committee, he made an uncomfortable joke about how the women of the group are the men’s “eye candy.” The cringe you just felt take over is exactly how many social media users felt after watching the Republican lawmaker give his speech. The sad part is that Walker even notes that the comment is sexist, but says it anyway, thinking it would somehow be funny.

Walker starts off the press conference by talking about the direction the RSC should go moving forward. He also mentioned that their membership is nearing 160 – only 16 of whom are women – and should become more vocal and visible. He said, “To the American people, we get it and we hear you. This is not the unified Republican government you wanted. The Republican Study Committee has reached a place with 17 to 20 chairmen in the conference and a growing membership of close to 160, where we must become more vocal and visible.”

The conversation then took a turn for the worse when he awkwardly added, “The accomplished men and women of the Republican Study Committee. And women. If it wasn’t sexist, I would say the RSC eye candy, but we’ll leave that out of the record, are not attention seekers.”

The women standing behind Walker simply laughed uncomfortably in an attempt to brush off the sexist remark while every woman watching cringed inwardly. It was even harder to continue watching the press conference and process the rest of his speech after hearing his sexist joke.

Of course, Walker later tried to explain his “eye candy” comment by saying he was only joking and is proud to serve with the women on the committee. He did not issue an apology, just an insincere excuse for the type of sexist comments that women have been hearing and dealing with for decades.

Walker told CNN, “During a press event today, I made a flippant remark meant to be light hearted but fell short. I’m proud of the women who serve in our RSC leadership.”

At some point in her life, every woman – most likely more than once – has dealt with sexist and uncalled-for comments, jokes, and remarks just like this. While Walker might think his comment was a harmless joke, it is not and will never be okay to refer to hard-working, brilliant women as just the “eye candy” of the group.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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