An Oklahoma state senator came under fire Friday after making offensive and misogynistic comments about Vice President Kamala Harris.
State Sen. Nathan Dahm (Rep., Broken Arrow) made the comments in an interview with KTUL-TV in Tulsa, as he discussed a bill he filed regarding paper straws.
“You can’t use a paper straw for a milkshake, but maybe Kamala Harris could because of her vast experience,” State sen. Dahm said.
He stood by the lewd sex joke, as well as implications that Vice President Harris had slept her way through the political ranks in an interview with another television station.
“Her way in getting to some of her early positions and where she is now, how she was selected and chosen,” State Sen. Dahm told KFOR-TV of Oklahoma City.
The state senator doubled down in the face of criticism Friday on social media.
“It’s clear that we’re not going to get through to this one senator,” said State House Minority Leader Emily Virgin. “It is, though, important for the rest of us to speak out about his despicable behavior and let people know that this is not the attitude or the feeling of the vast majority of people at the State Capitol.”
State Rep. Ajay Pittman (Dem., Oklahoma City) said she believes this is a result of privilege enjoyed by state Sen. Dahm.
“[His] comments are derogatory, they’re hurtful, they’re mean, they are misogynistic and they’re almost racial, right?” she asked rhetorically.
“Would he say that to a woman who isn’t a woman of color?”
State Sen. Dahm insisted it has nothing to do with her gender, using former President Bill Clinton as an example of another public figure whom he has hidden misconduct.
“I was making a joke,” State sen. Dahm 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.”
But it was not funny to State Sen. Jessica Garvin (Rep., Duncan), who said it is comments like the Broken Arrow legislator’s that hinder women from running for office.
“Every single female in that State Capitol has a similar story to tell, including myself,” she commented.
“We have these accusations made about us all the time and it’s unfortunate,”
“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.”
The Duncan Republican said she doesn’t want the controversy to be about being a woman and being a victim.
She said she hopes, instead, that her words encourage women not to be discouraged from seeking positions of leadership because of comments like those made by State Sen. Dahm.
“We as women are so hard on ourselves, and women are hard on other women,” State Sen. Garvin commented. “We don’t need any help from the guys.”
State Sen. Greg Treat (Rep., Edmond), the State Senate president pro tempore, also condemned the Dahm comments.
“I am disappointed in Nathan Dahm’s coments about the vice president,” State Sen. Treat said in a statement.His comments were misogynistic, disrespectful, immature and undermine the good work of the staff and other members of the Oklahoma Senate.” The leader of the State Senate did not say whether any disciplinary action would be taken against State Sen. Dahm.