Bachmann a Force as Candidate, Not Solely as Woman

Voters look at Congresswoman Michele Bachmann as a candidate, not as a woman.

On the eve of Women's Equality Day, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) stopped by North Charleston for a town hall meeting with voters.

Women's Equality Day, enacted in 1971, commemorates the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. It is celebrated annually on Aug. 26.

At the moment, Bachmann is the only woman candidate in the running for president. She also was the first Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. 

Bachmann is one of the candidates to rise under the tea party movement in recent years — even being dubbed a Mama Grizzly, a nickname coined by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the women she endorsed in 2010.


Taking the stage Thursday night — and sharing it briefly with Gov. Nikki Haley, who is the state's first woman governor — Bachmann did not mention the 91-year anniversary of women's suffrage. .

Like candidate Barack Obama in his historic and successful 2008 bid that brought a person of mixed race to the Oval Office, Bachmann never seems to address her place in history.

And her supporters (and some opponents) don't seem to see her through that lens either.

"I go more by the views ... It doesn't matter to me if they are male or female," Linda McBride of Daniel Island said. She added: "It's wonderful that she's is female and strong."

Even though local conservative Patch blogger Billy Simons isn't exactly a fan of Bachmann's, he said it's not because she's a woman.

"I'm more of a policy-based person," Simons said, calling Bachmann a "quote machine." "I look forward to a woman with policy knowledge."

As her campaign continues, Bachmann has been criticized for her comments on being "submissive" to her husband in 2006.

"My husband said, 'Now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law.' Tax law! I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says, 'Be submissive, wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands," Bachmann said.

On "Meet the Press" Aug. 14, Bachmann clarified her past statement.

"Submission, that word, means respect. It means that I respect my husband and he respects me," she said. "We respect each other. We have a mutual partnership in our marriage, and that's the only way that we could accomplish what we've done in life is to be a good team. We're a good team together."

Bachmann has also come under fire from Gloria Steinem, a prominent women's rights leader.

"If … Bachmann were to win, it would put feminism back. It is not about getting a job for one woman, but creating opportunity for all women. If you believe that marriage is your only life changing mechanism, it's a lot like death because it is your last decision," Steinem said in this Huffington Post article.

For supporters at Thursday's event, the media focus on Bachmann's gaffes, migraines and past statements is a form of sexism.

"I think she's treated horribly, it's no wonder women don't want to run," Charleston County Republican Party Chair Lyn Bennet said. "They treated Hillary (Clinton) the same way ... We fought so hard to get the vote and now we're part of the process, when a woman puts herself out there they are asked the most asinine questions. She was asked if she'd be submissive, no one would have asked a man that."

Bennet said she feels the liberal media drives much of the anti-woman bias in politics.

"I think the liberal media certainly isn't about women's equality, unless you're in their agenda, although they treated Hillary the same way," she said. "I think they're just hypocrites."

Joan Peters also said most of the dismissive treatment of female candidates is driven by media coverage. Reporters and talking heads on TV feel free to take liberties with female candidates that they would never think of taking with men, she said.

"Mike Wallace would never ask Rick Perry if he's a flake," she said. "Obama's a flake but no one asked him that."

But she also finds some fault within the conservative side.

"I've heard some extremely conservative women say that they don't think a woman should hold that job," she said. "They're just plain wrong. There's plenty of women running major corporations and doing fine."

Recently, Bachmann has dismissed being a feminist, a term that has lost positivity, according to this 2008 poll by the Daily Beast.

It's also a term that has become synonymous with pro-abortion stances, according to Susan Styles of Goose Creek.

"She's strong; she's devoted to family," Styles said. "One of the conditions for feminists is their devotion to abortion."

But while "feminist" conjures negative connotations, being a leader in a political party in a country where, according to the Center for Women and Politics, only 16 percent of Congress seats are held by women is still viewed as brave.

"I don't look at her as a feminist. I look at her as a woman who is very courageous," MacSems said.


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