Colleagues and constituents alike criticize Oklahoma Republican State Senator Nathan Dahm for comments about Vice President Kamala Harris that have been described as “offensive” and “misogynistic”, KFOR reports.
The incident began with Dahm’s press release about a new bill to ban paper straws that he filed on Earth Day.
In the statement, Dahm said, “Hatred of paper straws is nearly universal. I’ve never met a single person who enjoys using a paper straw. They fall apart and turn to mush quicker than Joe Biden trying to string together a coherent sentence. They collapse like Mitt Romney under the slightest amount of pressure, and even with Kamala Harris …well, never mind.”
When asked in an interview with KTLU about what Dahm meant by his abbreviated reference to the Vice President, Dahm said, “In talking with some people, one thing that could be said is that, you know, you can’t use a paper straw for a milkshake, but maybe Kamala Harris could because of her vast experience.”
The interviewer noted that Dahm’s words were “basically an oral sex implication,” and Dahm did not deny the statement, according to KPVI.
“And then, even with Kamala Harris as much as she has [been] celebrated, if you look at how she got her start into politics and different things, there’s things that the media chose not to focus on for the longest period of time,” Dahm added.
Many of Dahm’s fellow legislators spoke up about the inappropriateness of his comments. Democratic State Representative Ajay Pittman noted that Dahm’s comments came from a place of privilege.
“[His] comments are derogatory, they’re hurtful, they’re mean, they are misogynistic and they’re almost racial, right?” she said, according to KFOR. “Would he say that to a woman who isn’t a woman of color?”
Even members of Dahm’s own party condemned Dahm for his perpetuation of harmful stereotypes and power structures.
“Every single female in that Capitol has a similar story to tell, including myself. We have these accusations made about us all the time, and it’s unfortunate,” Republican State Senator Jessica Garvin said. “This is not something that is partisan. This is something that women of leadership positions struggle with no matter if it’s in politics or not. There’s always some reason women are successful aside from their own merit.”
Garvin continued on to encourage other women aspiring to positions of leadership to rise above the implications of Dahm’s comments. “We as women are so hard on ourselves, and women are hard on other women. We don’t need any help from the guys,” she said, according to KFOR.
In the face of criticism, Dahm stood by his comments, claiming they were “hilarious” jokes and ridiculing his critics.
“I was making a joke,” he told KFOR. “I understand that some people will find it to be off-color that I would repeat a joke, but I believe that’s one of the problems that we have in society right now is that people seem to not be able to take a joke.”
Many Twitter users were unconvinced.
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