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Jacques: Here’s a novel idea: Treat all women with respect

By Ingrid Jacques, The Detroit News

I recently got an email from EMILY’s List, a powerful organization that seeks to elect Democratic, pro-abortion rights women. And while I don’t often agree with the group’s mission, this email did resonate with me.

It called out Andy Levin for a dismissive comment he made about Ellen Lipton, his Democratic opponent for Michigan’s 9th District congressional seat.

In an interview, Levin said this about Lipton, who served three terms as a representative in Michigan’s Legislature: “I think it’s fine to be in a safe seat in the state Legislature for a few terms or whatever…But I have run programs that have consistently changed people’s lives.”

Politics can get nasty. Fine. But women involved in the public sphere often get hit harder, and in a different way than men do. Attacks against the fairer sex — from both parties — often involve barbs dealing with appearance, intelligence and other qualities that have little to do with partisan disagreements or policies. And these insults don’t just come from men. Women often do it to other women.

One of the favorite targets of the left, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, knows this well. Just this week, on a visit to a school in Erie, Pennsylvania, she was met by protesters, many of them teachers, shouting at her and holding insulting signs, including this one: “Bimbo Betsy’s so dumb she can’t even read this sign.”

It was the latest example of women in politics being harassed and intimidated.

That’s why Champion Women, spearheaded by Independent Women’s Voice, is so refreshing. It launched earlier this month, with a clear mission to call out examples of incivility and highlight the accomplishments of women.

And even though IWV, along with its sister organization Independent Women’s Forum, tends to promote a conservative, free-market agenda, it’s hoping this effort is fully bipartisan as current trends in incivility impact so many women.

The mission statement of Champion Women declares all women should be “treated with dignity and respect.”

It goes on to say this is a movement “committed to championing the ideas and amplifying the voices of all women. Too often on social media, in public, and in the news people try to diminish the influence, perspectives, and policy solutions put forth by women by degrading their appearance and delegitimizing their qualifications.”

Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women’s Forum, says the launch of the program has gone well and that there has “been a good deal of interest.”

She says the group is still seeking to involve more women on the left, some of whom are skeptical this is just about advocating for conservative women.

It’s not, and the more women who get involved, the better. That aim to be inclusive sets Champion Women apart from other pro-women movements, such as the Women’s March, which has blatantly made conservative women feel unwelcome.

I’ve joined several dozen other women as a digital ambassador for Champion Women, to help draw attention on social media to mistreatment of women and to make a stand for respectful dialogue.

Surely that’s something we can all agree on.

ijacques@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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