Mae Flexer

State Senator

Mae Flexer

Deputy President Pro Tempore & Federal Relations Liaison

An Advocate for Us

April 6, 2017

Senator Flexer Blasts Family Institute

Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson) responded today to the Family Institute of Connecticut’s (FIC) request for an apology regarding her recent remarks about Vice President Mike Pence during a news conference about Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In a blog post, the FIC implored its members to contact Senator Flexer to request a retraction of her remarks in which she “ . . . publicly accused Vice President Mike Pence of ‘perpetuating rape culture!”’ and urging them to call on her to apologize to the Vice President. In a Washington Post profile about his wife, it was detailed that Pence will not eat dinner alone with a woman unless his wife attends, and will not attend events where alcohol is served unless she is by his side. While a Congressman, Pence would not have one-on-one closed door meetings with his female staffers—a policy that did not apply to male staff members.

“I am deeply concerned that at an event meant to highlight our commitment to combatting sexual assault, the Family Institute’s only takeaway was to defend the perpetuation of Rape Culture and misogyny at the highest levels of our government—and then demand an apology to the man who is practicing this type of behavior. Once again when a woman speaks up for her right to fair and equal treatment the FIC responds by trying to shout her down. I will not be shouted down,” said Sen. Flexer.

“I am also disappointed that once again, the FIC isn’t joining the conversation, but instead continuing their tradition of ugly attacks and fighting against the fair treatment of men and women in Connecticut. This is a group that compared gay marriage to a salad bar and lobbies against science-based health information for students, so we should not be surprised that they go on the defensive about Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“I certainly will not apologize for condemning anyone who perpetuates Rape Culture, especially not the Vice President, who should be held to a higher standard. Vice President Pence should be the one to apologize for practicing blatant discrimination and normalizing the idea that men can’t control their urges enough to be alone in the company of women while dining or anywhere else. If the male co-chairs of my legislative committees followed the Vice President’s policy, I would not be able to meet privately with them to discuss important legislative issues. That is, for lack of a better word, outrageous.

“This is an insult to the women in the employ of a man who refuses to treat female staffers in the same manner he does male staffers. It is preposterous to defend a practice born out of a man’s supposed lack of control around women. There’s a phrase for that, and that phrase is ‘Rape Culture.’ Women should not be excluded from the table—literally or figuratively, for that matter—because a man feels like he can’t separate sex from workplace professionalism. Frankly, the fact that the Vice President feels he needs to impose such strict rules upon himself, so as to not act on what must be very strong impulses, is as confounding as it is disturbing in 2017.

“For an organization that calls itself the Family Institute of Connecticut, it seems to have very little regard for women of the household and the way our country’s Vice President views and treats them. They say they are for families, but refuse to recognize or accept the LBGTQ community and don’t believe that women should be in charge of their own reproductive rights, family planning, or their own bodies. Families are about inclusion. They are about looking out for each other, taking care of one another, loving each other because of and in spite of differences. The FIC is about exclusion; fighting against the rights of women and loving gay couples, to name two examples.

“We must hold the leaders of the Republican Party—including Mr. Pence—to the same standards as we do anyone else. There is no place for this type of disrespect for women in our culture, and certainly not in the highest offices of the land.

“I encourage members of the FIC to read a very thorough Southern Connecticut State University report on Rape Culture and the hallmarks of it so they can better understand what they so vociferously endorse about Mr. Pence.”

“Once he has been better educated on this crucial topic, I would be happy to bring Mr. Wolfgang back to the table to discuss issues of importance—that is, if we are able to sit alone at a table together.”