TAMPA, FLA. — Mention of the name Todd Akin here is typically met with eyerolls, sighs, and the occasional shake of the head. The Missouri Senate candidate’s “legitimate rape” comments have made him one of the most reviled people in politics this month — particularly among Republican women, many of whom told Business Insider they are sick of having to defend their party on issues of contraception and abortion.
“I can’t even talk about it,” said one woman, who declined to be named talking negatively about the party at the national convention. “It’s like, women don’t want to be talking about their uterus— so can men please stop talking about it too?”
“Most women are not thinking about contraception 24/7,” Mary Ann Conway, executive director of Women Up!, the sister initiative of the YG Network, told Business Insider. “They are thinking about the issues of the day, like economy, healthcare, gas prices. Things that are affecting them every day.”
Conway added that Akin’s gaffe is a good example of why conservative women need to start communicating more with other conservative women — and to start teaching men to speak to women.
That’s why she came up with the idea for the Women’s Pavilion, a femme-friendly lounge just outside of the RNC perimeter where women can go to unwind, get their hair and makeup done, have a cocktail, browse a women’s suffrage exhibit, and listen to panels on issues that are decidedly not “women-centric,” like healthcare and the Europeanization of America.
“Conservatives don’t always communicate with women effectively,” Conway told Business Insider. “The men in the conservative movement tend to focus on facts and figures, and leave out any emotional component.”
She added that, through focus groups and polling, Women Up! is working on “developing language” to help conservatives reach out to women, and hopefully start to dispel some of the “War on Women” problems that have plagued the party.
But Conway admits that comments like Akin’s, and like Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith’s similarly strange remarks about rape yesterday, are a setback.
“The focus becomes the quote, which no one thinks is OK — I mean, what is legitimate rape?” she said. “But then no one is thinking about the broader issues and no one talks about the policies. I think that’s a problem.”
She sighs. “It’s frustrating.”
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