Georgia congressman who used derogatory language about women criticises ‘journalist’

House Agriculture committee chair responds after Augusta Free Press publisher criticised him for sexist language

A Republican congressman in Georgia who used derogatory language to describe women in a memo published on Wednesday has hit back at the publisher of the Augusta Free Press, which first reported the story.

The memo, written in April and sent to members of the Georgia House Agriculture Committee and obtained by the Augusta Free Press, was co-signed by members of the committee and accused women of being “emotionally and mentally unstable”.

Sample, quoted language from the memo: “Let’s face it, this obsession with emotional closeness takes an emotional toll on most of us. So I have to admit that I am a bit concerned. What drives [this] is the fear of being called empathetic and too sympathetic.”

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“It [also] seems to be a little unnatural. It appears that girls are emotionally unstable. As a matter of fact, the girls on this committee seem a little unstable. It is pretty amazing to me that we are the most emotional one of the houses of congress. This particular issue of ability to be emotional from a male perspective should make us ashamed,” it continued.

While it is clearly written for the eyes of members of congress, its use has been met with criticism.

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After hearing of the memo, Erica Seifert, editor of the Augusta Free Press, posted a statement on Twitter. “These thoughts are unfortunately all too familiar for many in our society – especially women,” she wrote. “Let me be very clear. It is my fault that I am upset by comments this man has made about women in the past – when the reality is that this man’s penchant for derogatory remarks against women isn’t out of character.”

Her remarks were first shared by US Representative Renee Ellmers, a Republican from North Carolina.

“I’m disappointed in Erica Seifert for her poor choice of words,” Ellmers said in a statement to the Augusta Free Press. “Women in our community and across our country are working hard every day. They never get the recognition, they never get the respect, and they are often blamed for making the world go around.”

She added: “This, unfortunately, is why it is our responsibility as women to speak up when we see this kind of attitude in our friends, family, and colleagues. For me, these thoughts should not be acceptable in this community.”

On Wednesday, Representative Sam Graves, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, personally called Seifert. He told her his only purpose was to speak to her.

“I want to commend you and thank you for having the strength to speak out,” he said, according to the Augusta Free Press. “I know you have grown in this political arena and I’m impressed that you will be continuing to be vocal about leadership and that you will continue to challenge people when they do not live up to expectations, because you know it’s wrong.”

“We all do have flaws and we all need a higher standard.”

He added: “We all do have flaws and we all need a higher standard.”

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