Imagine a male Member of Congress saying “we could really get things done, if only all the female Members would just go home.” You can’t imagine it can you? Or maybe you can, and what follows such a statement is around the clock coverage on cable TV, a series of heartfelt apologies (rejected by the National Organization for Women (NOW)), a vote of censure, and political exile.

But it’s no big deal for a female member-in this case, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter-to say something like that about men. As The Hill reports:

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) said that both Republican and Democratic women members of Congress understand how to care for relatives and thus want the healthcare system to change.

“We go to the ladies room and the Republican women and the Democratic women and we just roll our eyes,” she said. “And the Republican women said when we were fighting over the healthcare bill, if we sent the men home…” at which point she was interrupted by loud applause.

“You know why? I’m not trying to diss the men but I’m telling you it’s the truth that every single woman there has been responsible for taking care of a [relatives] and so we think we can find a common ground there,” she said.

What bothers me about this isn’t just the double standard, but her implication that all these women-Republicans and Democrats-think alike because they are women and have therefore, of course, been family caretakers. She implies that the GOP women get it, and roll their eyes at all these silly men, who are derailing reform; GOP women are cajoled into voting no on health care reform, but really they know better.

Republican women lawmakers should be offended. There are many, many principled reasons to stand against what the Democrats are proposing (for example, see here). And it’s not just Republican lawmakers who reject Democrat proposals: women around the country don’t want a government take-over the health care system as this poll shows.

Somehow it remains okay politically to categorically insult male lawmakers, but in doing so Rep. Shea-Porter dismisses female lawmakers and all the men and women that these Members represent.