What is it about us educated women that GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is so scared of?

When Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, in a single tweetequated the fight for reproductive freedom to ‘overeducated and underloved millennials who are sadly returning from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches’ on Wednesday I was far from insult.

Instead, I laughed all the way upstairs with my husband, who was working in his home office. He had completely ignored Gaetz’s latest round of nonsense and rolled his eyes (apparently he’s not as easily amused as I am). We openly wondered how it was possible for a sitting member of Congress to behave in such an undignified way – so disrespectful to — such an important position open to the public. After my husband returned to work, I re-read Gaetz’s tweet, revel in some of the responses he received, and laughed some more.

While Gaetz specifically called out millennials, it sounded like an attempted attack on “overeducated” women of any generation.

There’s so little about his point of view that makes any real sense. For example, what does it mean to be “over-educated”? What’s wrong with microwave meals and cats? And why is dating app Bumble caught in the crossfire — unless, of course, it’s because it’s the first so-called feminist dating startup touted as empowering women by allowing them to do the first step, an antidote to nightmares inspired by other matchmaking apps? What does Gaetz have against any of these things, other than giving women more agency than he personally seems comfortable with?

Despite these unanswered questions, many reactions to Gaetz’s statement are — perhaps rightly and predictably — angry and point to the sexism and misogyny that define the Republican Party today.

But I would like to present another perspective: rather than responding viscerally to his attempt to make fun of women, doesn’t that require less psychic energy – less work? – to just treat him like a toddler throwing a tantrum in a crowded supermarket? Sure, it’s annoying, but smart adults don’t harbor such behavior. They don’t take it personally either. I see Gaetz’s latest drama as no different.

What’s wrong with microwave meals and cats? And why is the Bumble dating app caught in the crossfire?

While Gaetz specifically called out millennials, it sounded like an attempted attack on “overeducated” women of any generation. Clearly the congressman represents men who are absolutely terrified of educated women, perhaps because there is strength and power in numbers. Statistically, there are more women graduates than men in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, women made up 50.2% of the college-educated workforce in 2019, up from 45.1% in 2000.

Statista, a market and consumer data provider, found that 38.3% of all women had completed four or more years of college in 2020. Was Gaetz really thinking good when he saw fit to try to insult nearly 40% of women in the United States?

In her own state of Florida, about 26.7% of women had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. This represented an increase of about 7 percentage points since 2000. It does not seem like a wise political strategy to insult and dismiss such a broad base. But psychology has taught us that fear can inspire quite irrational behavior.

Many women, like me, have carefully crafted a life filled with higher degrees and educational pursuits that would empower us to make our own decisions. This may make us “over-educated”. Despite my many referrals, my spouse adores me and I enjoy the occasional microwave meal with my recently adopted rescue cat. This is why I can laugh at the congressman from Florida and even pity him. After all, that’s what education gives women: the ability to see perspectives as misogynistic and outmoded as the stupid, fear-based dolts that they are.

Of course, I understand the anger over Gaetz’s viral tweet. His point of view is misogynistic and his view of women (and cats) is nothing short of vile and putrid. That women across the country continue to fight privileged white men while some of those same men are embroiled in their own ongoing legal issues is a farce. These are euphemisms.

But Gaetz offered perhaps the only comedic moment since the nation learned how close the Supreme Court is to overturning Roe v. Wade. For women to be on the precipice – again – to lose their basic human right to bodily autonomy is to inspire raging rage. I, like so many others, felt that fury with the fire of a thousand suns. But I think it’s wise, between the fights and the rage that awaits us, to take every opportunity to laugh. This way, Gaetz will never disappoint you. His words, far from clever, struck me as a pathetic, last-ditch effort to complain about what he and men like him seem to fear most: educated, powerful women with free will.

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