Yesterday's report/memoir by Olivia Messer of the Texas Observer highlights the continuing culture of mysogyny in the Texas Legislature:
During the House budget debate in April, Brenham Republican Lois Kolkhorst and Austin Democrat Dawnna Dukes were debating an amendment. As the debate intensified, their male colleagues in the chamber started meowing and making angry-cat noises. Several times each session, men in the House will make cat noises when two women are debating.As Lesser describes, a couple of years ago this came to a head with a cathartic speech by 40-year House veteran Senfronia Thompson:
“It shows how there’s this immediate visceral response from the men to treat us in a demeaning way,” Howard said. “Certainly, two men can go at it, and it’s thought to be business as usual, maybe because we expect that behavior from them. But the fact is that it’s still very hard for women to be assertive without being thought of as overly aggressive.”
When I asked Van de Putte if this immaturity is ever apparent on the Senate floor, she answered, “At times. You know, [pornographic images] on their personal iPads or something. You just say, ‘Gentlemen, don’t bring that to the floor… Just do that at home.’”
While Thompson was still at the front mic, Debbie Riddle stepped to the back microphone to ask a question. Riddle, a socially conservative Republican from the Houston suburbs, and Thompson, a liberal Democrat from an urban district, don’t side with one another often. But on this day, they did.
“Do you think this has become standard operating procedure by some because of what goes on in this House with the way some of the men have treated some of the women?” Riddle asked. “With pornography on the floor of this House. Do you think that’s why this is acceptable?”