And now, from the "WTF was he thinking?" files ... On Tuesday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) offered a plate of cookies to a group of 17 mostly female demonstrators who were standing vigil outside his mansion. They were there to protest a law he signed on Monday, Senate Bill 353, which gravely restricts abortion access in that state. In signing the bill, McCrory broke a campaign promise he'd made not to approve any new abortion restrictions if elected.
The sugar-and empty-gesture-loving governor walked beyond the gates of his Executive Mansion around 1 pm with a plate of cookies in hand, flanked by four security guards. He then pointed directly at protester Jamie Sohn, who recalls, "I was like, 'Me?' and he nodded." She says he told her, "'These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you,'" before handing the bewildered woman the plate of treats, waving and walking away.
Shocker: the protesters weren't having it. According to the News & Observer, "No one knew if the cookies were homemade -- the protesters didn’t sample any before returning them." (Thanks, News & Observer, you know exactly how to hone in on our most urgent, pressing questions on the matter -- WERE OR WERE THOSE COOKIES NOT HOMEMADE?! And how the hell did they taste?!)
So yeah, the protesters didn't appreciate the cookies. They slipped them back underneath the mansion gate with a note that read, "Will take women's health over cookies." They also began chanting, "Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn't give cookies to a dude."
(I love that chant detail, and I can't help but wonder: How'd they come up with that awesome refrain so fast and on the fly? If I'd been one of those protesters, I would've been paralyzed in horror with my mouth hanging open at McCrory's brazen display of sexist condescension -- cookies? REALLY? Anyway, I'm impressed.)
Planned Parenthood supporters had intended for the vigil to last until 10 pm on Tuesday, but they cut it short after the cookie incident. Irene Godinez, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund, appropriately called McCrory's gesture “incredibly bizarre." And Planned Parenthood Action Fund later tweeted a picture of a plate of cookies with the words, “Governor McCrory: I’ll take health care, you keep the cookies.”
Public response to the cookie debacle was mostly incredulous, though a few reporters seemed to want to believe that McCrory's offering was genuinely altruistic, not one that reeked of sexist assholery ("Here, have some cookies as consolation for my awful anti-abortion bill"). Such was the case for HuffPo Live's Mike Sacks, who said, while reporting the incident, "It seems a bit tone-deaf, but come on, he had good intentions here. He wanted to make, at least, some chocolate-chip-laden peace."
To which HuffPo's senior political reporter Amanda Terkel replied, "Women in North Carolina are concerned [because] these ... male legislators signing laws that affect their reproductive rights, they may have the best of intentions, but are they really the best ones to be writing this legislation?"
In a statement, Paige Johnson, VP of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Central North Carolina, said, “We will not go back to a time when access to safe and legal healthcare as well as basic voting rights were reserved for the privileged few.”
The law McCrory signed, SB 353, is an (obviously) controversial measure that would make North Carolina state officials regulate abortion clinics per the same standards as those of outpatient surgical centers. It's a change that will force most of the state's 16 abortion clinics to close, because only ONE currently meets the standards of an outpatient surgical center.
No matter your stance on the abortion debate, can you imagine a bunch of male protesters being offered A PLATE OF BAKED GOODS to appease them as they tried to defend their reproductive rights? Oh wait, I guess that point is moot, since men don't actually NEED to fight for their repro rights! Never mind.