Republican House member once lamented you can’t call women “sluts” anymore

“Are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

Jason Lewis, the US representative from Minnesota’s Second District, said this in 2012: “Are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

CNN went through hours upon hours of Lewis’s former radio show, which he hosted from 2009 to 2014 before he was elected to Congress in 2016. Apparently, Lewis had thoughts he wanted to share with his listeners about “sluts.”

“It used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women,” Lewis said. “Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

Lewis’s comments have come to light during an election year when the #MeToo movement and the wins of Democratic women are defining the campaign. He will face a Democratic woman in his reelection campaign, Angie Craig, which is expected to be competitive after Lewis narrowly defeated Craig in 2016.

Here are Lewis’s comments, apparently originating in the Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh controversy, in full from CNN:

“Well, the thing is, can we call anybody a slut? This is what begs the question. Take this woman out of it, take Rush out of it for a moment,” Lewis said in a March 2012 episode. “Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there’s a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I’m not going to get there, but you know what I’m talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

There was more. Lewis brought up Madonna. She’s had a lot of sex and dressed provocatively, he observed and then asked: Would society not have once called her a slut? From CNN:

“Now Limbaugh’s reasoning was, look, if you’re demanding that the taxpayers pay for your contraception, you must use a lot of them and therefore, ergo, you’re very sexually active and in the old days, what we used to call people who were in college or even graduate school who were sexually active, we called them sluts.”

He continued, “Especially if you want somebody to pay for it. Now you know, obviously that’s a stretch. It was meant as an aspect of entertainment radio.”

He continued, “But have we really got to the point where you can’t refer to Madonna as a slut without being sued? I mean, Madonna has had a series of lovers, as have many in Hollywood. Now in the old days, what did we call this? Madonna dresses up in these sorts of prostitute-like outfits on stage, and she goes there and she sings and she shows half of her body. What did we call those people? 30 years ago? 40 years ago? 50 years ago? You can’t do that today, it’s too politically incorrect?”

“This has all been litigated before, and as Congressman Lewis has said time and time again, it was his job to be provocative while on the radio,” Lewis’s campaign manager Becky Alery told CNN.

Lewis narrowly won his first election in Minnesota’s Second District, which covers areas directly southeast of St. Paul. In 2016, he beat Democrat Angie Craig by 2 points. Cook Political Report rates his 2018 reelection campaign as a toss-up. He’ll again face Craig, a health care executive at St. Jude Medical.

The former radio jockey and author has also had some thoughts to share about slavery. He said this on audio commentary for a book he wrote, per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

In fact, if you really want to be quite frank about it, how does somebody else owning a slave affect me? It doesn’t. If I don’t think it is right, I won’t own one, and people always say ‘well if you don’t want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don’t have to, but why tell somebody else they can’t. Uh, you know if you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.

That was reported the February before Lewis was elected to Congress. He won anyway. Now he’s up again in November.