COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina senator says he was only joking with a female colleague when he referred to women as a “lesser cut of meat” while they dined with others near the statehouse Tuesday. But she says the remarks are sexist and upsetting and that she’s frequently asked him to stop.
Katrina Shealy, the state’s only female senator, said that Sen. Tom Corbin was referring to rib meat, after saying God made Eve from Adam’s rib. Corbin said a rack of ribs had just been brought to their table, and it “reminded me of an old joke.”
“We were all joking and laughing,” said Corbin, R-Travelers Rest. “We cut up together.”
He also told others at the table that he “got her wearing shoes,” referring to women being barefoot and pregnant, Shealy said.
“You’ve pushed me far enough,” she said she replied. “I worked three times harder than you did to get here ... I deserve respect, and I’m going to get it.”
The two, both elected to the Senate in 2012, sat beside each other in Senate chambers for the past two years. She said that while Corbin thinks such comments are an ongoing joke between them, she’s asked him to stop.
Corbin said he can’t recall her ever saying that, adding that she’s teased him about being overweight and bald.
“If it bothers her, I’ll quit joking around with her,” he said.
Both agreed the exchange occurred after they disagreed on the gun provision of legislation aimed at curbing domestic violence. That provision seeks to prevent abusers from having easy access to guns. South Carolina has long ranked among the worst nationwide in violence against women, and most domestic violence deaths involve guns.
Under the proposal, those under protective orders could not possess a gun, and those convicted of domestic violence could not possess a gun for a decade after their sentence is served. Some first-time offenders could undergo counseling to avoid that penalty.
Corbin said he supports other parts of the bill but believes a restraining order is no reason to take away someone’s Second Amendment rights.
“She stuck a knife in my back because we’re at odds over this bill,” he said, adding she’s “trying to make me out to be a woman-hater.”
Shealy said she hopes Corbin’s learned how inappropriate such comments are and never repeats them, to her or any other woman.