According to some Republican men, a woman’s role is still spreading her legs for a man as recently articulated by a Perryville, Missouri school board member – and this is in 21st Century.
Consider that it took nothing less than a Constitutional Amendment – the 19th Amendment, which passed 1919 – before women in this country received the right to vote.
That women have been treated dismally over the course of history is a widely accepted and very unfortunate part of that history, but that women are still, today, pigeon-holed by beliefs, mostly held by Republican men, is even more repugnant.
A few days ago at a closed meeting of its school board in Perryville, MO, board member Mark Gremaud made the following comment about female board member Kathy Carron, “Kathy, you are just a woman, the only thing you know is laying on your back with your legs in the air splayed.”
What is also not surprising, another male board member Jeff Weilbrecht came to Gremaud’s aid: “I’m not saying Mark Gremaud is the perfect board member, I’m not saying I’m one either. I do ask that the rest of us stop and put our petty differences aside once and act like adults and accept that we have differences.”
Weilbrecht’s dismissively characterizing the comment as ‘petty differences’ is symptomatic of a general belief that some men hold about the role of a woman in society. Weilbrecht actually went on to praise Gremaud for all the good work he had done in the past.
Nancy Voelker, president of the Board, made the following statement upon asking for Gremaud’s resignation: “I assure you that the comments for which Mr. Gremaud was censured were unprovoked. This is a fact uncontested by six members of the board. The discussion was not about teachers, students, farmers, or any other conjecture you may see on social media. We were discussing board procedures and board behaviors. Mrs. Carron’s statement was not directed to Mr. Gremaud, but was rather directed to the entire board. Mrs. Carron made a reasonable comment in a reasonable manner, before Mr. Gremaud’s unprovoked verbal attack.”
The fact that Gremaud’s statement was ‘uncontested by six members’ seems to be of little concern to three of the board members. As I am sure Ms. Carron did not intend to imply that it would have been OK had Gremaud been provoked – she gave him the benefit of the doubt – or had the subject been different. Such behavior and comments like this are intolerable regardless of the situation or topic of conversation.
Gremaud, however, was censured and asked to resign, but only by a 4 to 3 vote. He is still permitted to attend board meetings and it is unclear if he will resign.
Though Perryville is a small community made up of slightly more women than men accordingly to the last census, 95% are white folks. It is a split Congressional district represented by a two Republicans, both of whom won office, each receiving more than 70% of the vote – not unsurprisingly, Gremaud is a Republican, as evidenced by his campaign contributions.
CORRECTION: This article’s title has been updated to make it clear that it was a Republican official making the remark and presented the quote directly, rather than a paraphrase.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.