Bringing Things Down to Woman Level


Michelle Togut

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, contributor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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45 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    I actually loved the “guys bring pie charts” bit. Not that this isn’t insulting to women, but its insulting to men in its own special way. “Look guys….we got PIE CHARTS and GRAPHS…..we are bringing the knowledge….those other guys don’t stand in front of graphics our 23 year old interns cranked out” But yeah, this treats men like ijits then suggests dumbing it down a bit for women.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to greginak says:

      Right. I have yet to see a politician with a pie chart who didn’t strike me as a complete ass.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak says:


      Yes absolutely that, but I also thought it was funny how Renee was actually demonstrating her (stereotype-based) point but revealing that to her having pie charts and talking about billions of dollars is some really cerebral stuff. I give her points for consistency tho: she’s revealed herself as the type of woman we all need to dummy things down for. Tho, how to get dumber than pie charts and “billions” of dollars is testing the limits of my male brain.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to greginak says:

      You know, I kind of thought Renee was deliberately taking the “one-down” position. You know, “I’ll pretend to be stupid in order to talk to stupid people without offending them.” Which sort of fits with what you’re saying.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to greginak says:

      Are we sure she’s not just overestimating male swing voters instead of underestimating female ones?Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It’s better than hammering out the eight different kinds of rape and pointing out which ones are authentic.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Ehhh, good point. I mean, what she said is demonstratively, unequivocally insulting to women, but doesn’t even sniff the borders of Akinland.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        What she said was atrocious; but only because she framed in it terms of ‘women,’ and she does make an important point — a lot of political discussion is abstract, and far removed from actual people’s lives; large numbers (a billion vs. a million) are very difficult to grasp. Pie charts aren’t clear to some people.

        She’s pointing out the misses so many folks have in politics; there are those skilled at communicating big numbers and the relationships between things politically — Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton both seem to do it well. I’m sure there are people on the right who do it better then how many pages long a bill is, too.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:


        I agree. Lots of people who vote don’t know a pie chart from a power point presentation (the pinnacle … no wait, the pinnacle is a Ted Talk), yet they have just as much influence on the outcome of an election. Fact is, some people are just stoopid relative to others and within certain contexts. Doesn’t mean anyone’s better or worse, acourse. But I hear you that some people need things explained to them in really basic terms before they understand ’em. What she did was say that women are Just Those People. As to the issue of Bill Clinton or Elizabeth Warren actually explaining things in a descriptively accurate yet “dummied down” way, I’ll have to reserve judgment. To use Jaybird’s alluded to example from above, I think if “dummying down” is the standard that matters, then Todd Akin actually did a pretty good job of it. At least for a limited audience, anyway. I think they heard him loud and clear.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


        Pie charts aren’t clear to most people because pie charts are terrible:

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

        a lot of political discussion is abstract, and far removed from actual people’s lives

        I was thinking the same thing, Zic: that she was trying to make a point that you specifically, but others as well, have been trying to make here recently. She just did so by trotting out a stereotype rather than simply saying that politicians should try to make things relevant, explain how issues being discussed relate to peoples lives, and try to make it clear how things will change for people if a policy is enacted.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Stillwater says:


        That was my second thought (after: well that was massively condescending) upon reading the quote. Nothing marks someone out for me as trying to pass shallowness off as depth as displaying data in a pie chart.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Jaybird says:

      @zic–I agree that she has a point, but the way she makes it insults both men and women and shows that the Republicans, who are having problems with women, really do need to work on their messaging. Insinuating that charts and graphs are too complex for women to grasp = bad messaging. Arguing that Republicans need to better communicate their ideas to different constituencies is a much better way to get at the same point.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Michelle says:

        You know I’m as appalled as you are; I’m just trying to understand what she meant outside of the realm of self-flagellating misogyny.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michelle says:

        I’m pretty sure she meant what she said. “dumb it down a little” (touchy feely stuff, probably). She was directly asked about women, so she addressed the point.

        This sounds like fairly standard “oh, god I totally should have thought that through”, and not terribly indicative of mysogyny (though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other statements corroborate the mysogyny hypo).Report

  3. Avatar James Hanley says:

    From the full comments link:
    we have a tendency to turn people off right away, depending on what’s being said.

    And then she proceeds to demonstrate how it’s done.Report

  4. Avatar morat20 says:

    *facepalm*. I don’t…I just don’t get it. I mean literally, they can’t be this clueless. A thousand PR folks screamed in anguish the second they read that.

    Do they not have staffs willing to speak out?

    Other than being so deep in a bubble and bought into the whole “Our problems with women are a liberal media invention” (I mean, Karl Rove’s election night meltdown does show at least some people are that deep in a bubble) in it’s entirety (and lack any PR consultants or, you know, moderately intelligent staffers to say “Even if it’s a BS attack, we shouldn’t actually play INTO it”) I’ve got..nada.

    I mean, sure, there’s lots of people with a sort of 50s view of women (well, the myth of the 50s) and a some Christian sects really push the whole submissive woman and mother thing, and that would be concentrated more among conservatives in general — but surely the actual, you know, the very folks doing the outreach would be aware that this is not an entirely universal way of looking at it.

    You wouldn’t need outreach otherwise.

    I swear, this is like listening to my someone clueless speak about IT — they use the bzzwords, but in ways that make it obvious they literally don’t have a clue but are trying to BS through it.

    Except, you know, instead of talking about a complicated and highly technical subject, they’re talking about “Hey, you know, maybe you should at least pretend to treat women like they’re vaguely equals. And that you care, maybe a little, about them” which is not, you know, rocket science.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to morat20 says:

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The GOP is dying the death of a thousand cuts.

      Everyone predicts that 2014 will be a banner year for Republicans. GOP demographics are dying but they are dying very slowly. The silent generation and Boomers can be around politically for another 20-40 years depending to be good voters. The same goes with Gen Xers like Ryan and Walker who developed crushes on Reagan when they were impressionable teens.

      The people making these statements are old enough to be alive and cognizant when it was perfectly acceptable to say statements like this and not suffer any consequence beyond a glare.

      The GOP can stay alive in the short term and not change while further digging their grave in the long term.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    “But isn’t it unfair that some people had to wait 6 hours to vote, when I just walked right in?”

    “Ma’am, elections are just like when you’re washing your husband’s socks. You want to make them as white as you can.”Report

  6. Avatar veronica d says:

    Wait! This person is a congresswoman? Like, of the United States Congress? She was elected?

    She’s not just the dog catcher in Duluth or something?

    (Not to pick on Duluth. I’m sure it’s lovely.)


  7. NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

    I’m trying to figure out how she thinks the “It was taken out of context” defense can possibly work for this set of statements.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Hi, Michelle,

    How are you today? Things going well? Did you see the latest Cosmo? No, no… not Cosmos. Cosmos engages in all sorts of devil science which is flat out wrong and which you wouldn’t understand anyway, amIright? YOU GO GIRL! Anyway, I’m not one to tell you what to do (unless it comes to your reproductive rights or vagina-y area in general), but I think this post would be totally improved by the inclusion of this chart: You want money, you say? How about a bunch of dollars? No, no… not a billion. You wouldn’t even know what a billion is. Just a lot. I mean, maybe a billion. But all you need to know is its a really big number… bigger than that bitch Jessica’s fat ass. SNAP!Report

  9. Avatar Damon says:

    You know the sad part is, that I really think men and women see things differently, or at least, approach issues from differing perspectives. In that vein, it makes sense to tailor your message or campaign to your target audience. But jeebus, don’t these folks know the first rule of getting out of the hole you dug for yourself is to stop digging?Report

  10. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    My favorite part was actually this:

    “The congresswoman did not stop there. She said that women want more time in their lives, such as “more time in the morning to get ready.””


  11. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    I love how we say when want people to be honest with us, then we rake them over the coals when they are…

    BTW, I hope she loses in November, mostly because she is running against Clay Aiken, and I would love to see a former American Idol runner-up in Congress.Report

  12. Avatar Katie S says:

    Just proof that some republican women can be just as dumb as some republican men.
    #equality #muricaReport