Two leaders in the South Carolina House kicked off the annual Boys State leadership event for 800 male high school seniors by commenting that the $4500 in college money available from the state lottery could “buy a lot of beer and girls.” Democrat Dick Harpoolitan and Republican Henry McMaster claim that they were trying to secure the boys’ attention before moving on to the “serious” issues of the day as part of a program to teach leadership and the political process to high school students. When challenged, neither official offered any comment on the sexist nature of the joke or the kind of environment or example the comment created.
The leaders’ comments came on the heels of another sexist prank in the South Carolina House. Following a memo from the House Women’s Caucus about professional work attire, a phony “Men’s Caucus” circulated a memo stating that women pages could get bonuses for wearing tops with less material and that “skirts should be no longer than 4 inches above the knee.” South Carolina’s Girls State program rallied against the memo. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a non-partisan public policy research organization, South Carolina ranks 50th among states in women holding statewide office.
Read IWPR’s report, The Status of Women in South Carolina