March 28th, 2012
05:27 PM ET
2 years ago

Democratic Rep. tells personal story of rape, hits GOP war against women

Washington (CNN) – It is not something you expect to hear on the floor of the House of Representatives – a lawmaker recounting a remarkably personal story of being raped.

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, talked about what she called "terrible memories" of high school boys making a bet in the locker room that she "couldn't be had."

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"Then the appointed boy, when he saw that I wasn't going to be so willing, completed a date rape and then took my underwear to display it to the rest of the boys," Moore told the House chamber Wednesday.

Moore had told the story before, including earlier in the day at a press conference, but this was the first time she did so on the House floor, according to a spokeswoman.

She brought it up as part of an effort by female lawmakers to keep alive a central Democratic message against the GOP – what they call the Republican "war on women."

Wednesday's chapter in that Democratic playbook: claim that Republicans are against extending the historically bipartisan Violence Against Women Act.

House Democrats used a procedural maneuver to try to bring a Senate Democratic version of the measure to the House floor.

They were beaten back by the GOP led House, but Democrats got what they wanted politically: attention.

And as evidence that Democrats plan to use the issue in the fall elections, hours after the vote the House Democrats' campaign arm blasted out a "vote alert" targeting New York Republican Rep. Bob Turner. The email highlighted the legislation once had bipartisan support, but said Turner "voted against considering renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, showing again he has all the wrong priorities."

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, the only female in the GOP leadership, called the Democrats move a "distraction."

"They are manufacturing this war on women because the Democrats know that the Republicans won the women's vote in 2010. It was largely driven by two issues, the health care bill that women opposed, and the economy and the fact that women are starting businesses in this country and understand the challenges," said McMorris Rogers.

Speaking about the Violence Against Women Act, McMorris Rodgers said, "this is legislation that has long enjoyed bipartisan support and nothing has changed."

That is true, however there is currently a partisan divide over expanding the law. Many Democrats want to broaden it to include illegal immigrants, and gays and lesbians.

Two weeks ago, Democratic women in the Senate mounted their own public relations offensive on this issue, coming to the Senate floor to blast Republicans who opposed those expansions.
Just like the House Democrats' move Wednesday, their goal was to keep the political message alive that Republicans have it out for women.

"Women being battered has no place to go and often stayed in the home where they were battered again and again. This bill also provides support for state agencies, rape crisis centers, and organizations that provide services to vulnerable women and American women are safer because we took action," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein on March 15.

But few of the political speeches Democratic women have made on this issue have been as personal and pointed as Moore's.

At a press conference with House Democratic women earlier Wednesday, she talked more about her own experience.

"Violence has been a thread throughout my entire life, from being repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped as a child up to and including as an adult having the boys sit around locker room in gym and bet that I couldn't be had, and when the appointed boy was finding that he was not getting very far with me decided that this was a good opportunity for a date rape and to take my underwear back as a trophy of his accomplishment," said Moore.

Moore's spokeswoman told CNN that rape resulted in pregnancy and her now 40 plus year old daughter.

The Democrats political strategy to go after Republicans as anti-women took off in and around the debate over whether women should be able to get free contraception as part of the new health care law.

In a clear effort to rebut that, McMorris Rodgers was joined by several Republican women at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"Whether it is spending, whether it is the cost of your health insurance, whether it is the price at the pump, this administration is too expensive to afford. The moms of America know it and we're continuing the fight on their behalf," said Rep Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee.

"There was a movie a few years back called 'What Women Want,' well I'll tell you what I hear from women that they want. They want freedom for themselves and their kids. They want to make health care decisions for themselves and for their families." argued Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming.

But some GOP female lawmakers are concerned politically. "I think that my party is in an unfortunate place right now as viewed by many, many women in this country who are feeling very anxious about what they believe to be attacks on women's health," Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski told CNN in a recent interview.

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Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Democrats • House of Representatives
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. diridi

    This election is all about Rich v/s Middle Class America. Drive these GOP thugs out in next election. period.

    March 28, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. MARLENE MARTINO

    I AM A PERSON WHO WENT THRU WHAT THESE LADIES WENT THRU. I WAS MADE A FOOL OF IN FRONT OF MY HUSBAND FRIENDS, MADE TO FEEL CHEAP, IGNORANT AND BEAT UP ON ME WHEN EVER HE FELT LIKE IT.MY FOLKS GAVE THEIR CONSENT FOR ME TO MARRY WHEN I WAS 15, BECAUSE MY HUSBAND WAS IN THE AIRFORCE AND HE COULD GET THEM BOOOZE CHEAP AND CIGARETTES.. IT GOT REALLY BAD WHEN WE GOT SENT OVERSEASES, BECAUSE THEN HE THREATENED ME, NOT TO GO TO HIS COMMANDER. I PUT UP WITH 42 YRS. OF IT AND HE GOT SICK AND YOU DON'T KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I CAME CLOSE TO PULLING THE OXYGEN OUT OF HIS NOSE. . I HATE TO SEE THESE GIRLS GO THRU THIS NOW AND I WONDER HOW MANY CAN'T TELL THEIR STORIES AND HAVE TINY ONES. I HAVE A HARD TIME NOW, BECAUSE I CAN'T BE A NORMAL LADY OF 77.

    March 28, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  3. Woman In California

    As women we ALL have stories that are not nice. The more attractive you are the more stories you are likely to have. Having said that – republican men are nothing more than voyeurs. Always sticking their noses into our bedrooms and trying to make decisions for us. Gone are the days of staying barefoot and pregant and we need to let them know that – by sending them a message loud and clear in November that they CANNOT and WILL NOT control our bodies anymore!

    March 28, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. John Locke

    Where in the Constitution is the authority for these kinds of laws? The states should manage their own programs for these kinds of issues. The Constitution also forbids Congress from writing laws targeting individuals and groups of people. This type of legislation infers a woman's life and needs are more important than a mans or even transgender individuals. That type of discrimination is supposed to be vehemently opposed by the Democratic leadership, yet they once again prove that are just as hypocritical as their Republican counterparts. These fools continue to play political games while Rome burns, but hey it's okay Obama says everything is fine. There's nothing to worry about folks....

    March 28, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I think George W. Bush summed it up nicely for republicans, and I quote, "Let me put it to you bluntly. In a changing world, we want more people to have control over your life." End of quote from the worst president in history.

    March 28, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  6. Honest Abe

    As much as democrats want to tout it, there isn't GOP war on women.

    Anyone with a brain can see that it is just liberal spin.

    March 28, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. Rickster

    Man, this country is going downhill fast.

    March 28, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    Very sorry for what happened to you Ms. Moore.
    I hope, as a country, most of us have gotten past the keep the little woman down under the thumb. We must regain power and tell the rethugs to get out our of bedrooms and our wombs!!

    March 28, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  9. 1twinsfan

    How ingenious of the Democrats to somehow get the Republicans to author these bills all over the country and in DC attacking women's rights. Any party that smart deserves to be in power.

    March 28, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  10. bob

    "I think that my party is in an unfortunate place right now as viewed by many, many women in this country who are feeling very anxious about what they believe to be attacks on women's health," Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski told CNN in a recent interview.

    Uhm, they are attacks on women's health. Catholic hospitals can refuse to transport a female patient who will die from an ectopic pregnancy. Republican lawmakers in Virginia (and other states) want state-mandated rape in order for a woman to have an abortion. They want to give employers the right to interrogate women about BC usage. In Wisconsin, they want to criminalize single parents (who are mostly single moms) as child abusers. They want to end Violence Against Women – which would defund rape crisis centers and shelters for battered women and children. They want to defund Planned Parenthood – which would block access for many lower income women to have acess to birth control and pap smears. In Texas, Rick Perry just defunded the entire women's health division.

    Gee, I wonder what war they're talking about.

    March 28, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. clarke

    That took alot for her to tell her story. Hats off to her.

    March 28, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. Mom to 3

    There is no way, as a woman and as a mother to a daughter, that I will vote for ANY Republican in November. As far as having the VAWA cover "illegal aliens," do women who are being beaten deserve no help simply because of their immigration status? What about a woman who is a lesbian? She should receive no help or protection because of her sexual orientation? The current GOP absolutely disgusts me.

    March 28, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    Republicans are toast in Nov no matter which bafoon they that give the nomenation to.

    March 28, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. DRAKE MALLARD

    Everywhere you look, Republican men are leading an all out assault on American women.These conservatives are really something, aren't they? They are all in favor of the unborn, they will do anything for the unborn, but once you're born, you're on your own! Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that they don't want to know about you, they don't want to hear from you Oh yes and "let a baby be born" to a mother who cannot care for it or someone who does not want it and then whose responsibility is it? YoursThe conservative position SHOULD be to cover birth control so as to lower abortion rates.

    March 28, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. Jim

    There is no GOP war against women.

    March 28, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    although I admire her courage for bringing this to the attention of Congress, Ms. Moore had best be careful because the GOP and many on the far right have a habit of turning the victim into the VILLIAN when it comes to certain crimes. They can say you "lead those guys on", "it was YOUR fault", ask "what were you wearing?", dig into your past and find out that you are not a totally good person and may have deserved what you got. And you KNOW that I am NOT LYING about this. It is happening right now as we speak and has been going on for quite some time.

    March 28, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I wanted to summarize the ACA for the slow learner, 1 right wing conservative justice wil determine if 315 million people will have affordable health care.

    March 28, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. Liz the First

    I hope every woman realizes what these monsters are actually doing. their insistance on women carrying the product of rape to term is condemning those women to slavery. their support of trans-vaginal ultrasound is supporting the government-mandated rape of any woman who wants an abortion. if you force a woman to take something into her vagina that she doesn't want there, that is rape! and using the threat of rape to intimidate women into not having abortions is terrorism! this is the GOP today, promoting rape and terrorism against women. wake up, republican women, you are victims of this atrocity. what's next with these neanderthals, clubbing us over the head and dragging us back to their caves by our hair?

    March 28, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  19. Ray E. (Georgia)

    I would dispute this post that the Republicians have a War against Women. Rape is a terrible thing but this is partisian politics by this woman. The country has a huge debt. If it isn't delt with the very people the democrats are trying to help will fall thru the cracks. All you have to do is look at the housing mess.

    March 28, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |