OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma state senator came under fire Friday after making comments about Vice President Kamala Harris, which have been described as offensive and misogynistic.
Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm made the comments in an interview with KFOR’s sister station, KTUL in Tulsa, as he was talking about 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,” Sen. Dahm is heard saying in the recording.
He stood by the lewd sex joke, as well as implications Harris had slept her way through the political ranks in an interview with KFOR Friday evening.
“Her way in getting to some of her early positions and where she is now, how she was selected and chosen,” Dahm told KFOR.
The Broken Arrow-based state senator doubled down in the face of criticism Friday on Twitter.
“It’s clear that we’re not going to get through to this one senator,” said 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.”
Rep. Ajay Pittman said she believes this is a result of privilege enjoyed by Dahm.
“[His] comments are derogatory, they’re hurtful, they’re mean, they are misogynistic and they’re almost racial, right? Would he say that to a woman who isn’t a woman of color?” She said.
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 claims has alleged hidden misconduct.
“I was making a joke,” 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, who said it is comments like Dahm’s that hinder women from running for office.
“Every single female in that Capitol has a similar story to tell, including myself. We have these accusations made about us all the time, and it’s unfortunate,” Sen. Garvin said. “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 Republican from Duncan said she doesn’t want this 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 these.
“We as women are so hard on ourselves, and women are hard on other women. We don’t need any help from the guys,” Sen. Garvin said.
Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat also condemned the comments Friday afternoon, issuing the following statement:
“I am disappointed in Nathan Dahm’s comments about the vice president of the United States. His comments were misogynistic, disrespectful, immature, and undermine the good work of the staff and other members of the Oklahoma Senate. As the leader of the Senate, I hold senators to a high standard of conduct and decorum, and Senator Dahm completely failed to live up to that standard.”SENATE PRO TEM GREG TREAT
Pro Tem Treat would not comment on whether there would be disciplinary action taken against Dahm.