Rick Perry, Manly Man

Twice in his speech in Waterloo, Iowa, the Texas governor drew laughs with gender stereotypes that might not play well elsewhere


DES MOINES, Iowa -- Paul Begala reports that Texas Gov. Rick Perry wore such tight jeans and "adjusted himself so often" as a young Democrat in the Texas state legislature Begala and a group of other aides called him "the Crotch."

That's an interesting data point, as two turns of phrase from the now-Republican governor of Texas last night to a GOP dinner in Waterloo, Iowa, suggest that the way Perry talks about women and deploys his masculinity on the stump will bear watching in the months ahead.

First, Perry invoked the old "girls have cooties" stereotype at the start of his Waterloo speech:

I was about eight years old, and my momma decided I needed to have some musical influences in my life. So I took piano lessons. Mom drove us 16 miles from out in the country into town, and I sat by a little blonde-headed girl.

I'm pretty sure I wasn't real happy about that at the moment, having to sit by a girl when I was eight years old.

Eight years later, I had my first date in my life with her.

And 16 years after that, I married her. Now that's a whole 'nother story about how long it took, that long.

But it just kind of goes to tell ya, sometimes it kind of takes me a while to get into something, like this presidential race. But lemme tell you something, when I'm in, I'm in all the way!

Then, after he finished speaking and was about to entertain questions, Perry took off his jacket and handed down from the stage to his wife at front-row table, who passed it on back to his daughter, who was wearing a sleeveless dress.

"Excuse me, my daughter's cold, so I gave her my jacket. And if this shirt's got a few wrinkles in it, it's not my wife's fault," Perry quipped. The crowd laughed.

Perry's cocky persona and apparent relish for playing gender stereotypes for laughs could sit uneasily with women in a general election contest. Of course, there's no evidence he's got any appeal to Democratic women in Texas -- or to Democrats there more generally -- but half of winning is avoiding angering the other side enough to turn out against you in force.

In any event, something to keep an eye on.

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus


How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.


Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.


The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.


Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.


Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses


Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In