A Michigan candidate for the US House backed by former President Donald Trump once railed against giving women the right to vote, arguing that America has “suffered” since women’s suffrage.
John Gibbs, who defeated in the primary an incumbent Republican who had voted to impeach Trump, also made comments in the early 2000s praising an organization trying to repeal the 19th Amendment which also argued that women’s suffrage had made the United States into a “totalitarian state.”
As a student at Stanford University in the early 2000s, Gibbs founded a self-described “think tank” called the Society for the Critique of Feminism that argued women did not “posess (sic) the characteristics necessary to govern,” and said men were smarter than women because they are more likely to “think logically about broad and abstract ideas in order to deduce a suitable conclusion, without relying upon emotional reasoning.”
Hosted on Gibbs’ personal page at Stanford in 2000 and 2001, the Society for the Critique of Feminism argued for a patriarchal society run by men, calling it “the best model for the continued success of a society.”
Anne Marie Schieber, a spokesperson for Gibbs’ campaign told CNN in a statement that Gibbs believed women should be allowed to vote and work.
“John made the site to provoke the left on campus and to draw attention to the hypocrisy of some modern-day feminists. It was nothing more than a college kid being over the top,” she said. “Of course, John does not believe that women shouldn’t vote or shouldn’t work, and his mother worked for thirty-three years for the Michigan Department of Transportation!”
Gibbs said the same when asked on Friday by a Michigan radio host about the website, arguing, “I was in college, 23 years ago.”
“And this was made as a satire, of trolling against the liberals on campus after we had a discussion about what freedom really means.”
Gibbs requested the website for the think tank be removed from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine in 2016, according to a spokesman for the Internet Archive. But CNN’s KFile reviewed it on a different archiving service.
On the site, Gibbs actively argued against women being granted the right to vote, saying it led to an enlarged federal government.
“Some argue that in a democratic society, it is hypocritical or unjust for women, who are 50% of the population, not to have the vote,” Gibbs’ website read. “This is obviously not true, since the founding fathers, who understood liberty and democracy better than anyone, did not believe so. In addition, all people under age 18 cannot vote, although they too comprise a significant portion of the population. So we cannot say that women should be able to vote simply because they are a large part of the population.”
“We conclude that increasing the size and scope of government is unequivocally bad,” Gibbs added. “And since women’s suffrage has caused this to occur on a larger scale than any other cause in history, we conclude that the United States has suffered as a result of women’s suffrage.”
The Society for the Critique of Feminism was cited by other anti-feminist websites, including on anti-feminist and conspiracy website Father’s Manifesto. Father’s Manifesto, which was operated by the Christian Party, had a petition to repeal the 19th Amendment. Gibbs twice praised the organization in comments hosted on their website and linked to them from his own website.
“A great website detailing, among other things, the unconstitutional laws which passed as a result of the 19th amendment, and providing further evidence of the damages done by the 19th amendment: The 19th Amendment and the Totalitarian State,” Gibbs said, linking to their website.
Speaking earlier this month with the Stanford Review, the university’s conservative student newspaper, Gibbs said his time at Stanford was formative for his beliefs.
“When I got to Stanford, I got to know some conservatives there through the Stanford Review,” Gibbs said. “Having actual conservative friends in the flesh — which I didn’t have in high school, I just kind of had the reading — made a big difference. Being able to have people I could be friends with who could sharpen me and my conservatism. So yeah, that was it — discovering Thomas Sowell in high school and continuing to build on the ideas at Stanford through the friends that I had.”
Past controversial comments
Gibbs beat Rep. Peter Meijer to win the GOP nomination for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, primarying the incumbent congressman who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump over his action surrounding the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol. Gibbs now faces Democrat Hillary Scholten in the general election.
Gibbs is a former Trump administration official who served in the Department of Housing and Urban Development and was later nominated to be director of the Office of Personnel Management.
CNN’s KFile previously reported that Gibbs’ history of conspiratorial and inflammatory tweets included baselessly accusing Democrats of taking part in satanic rituals and defending a notorious anti-Semitic troll banned by Twitter. His nomination to be OPM director was never voted out of committee and was eventually returned to the President with the start of the new Congress in 2021.
Argued against women in the workplace
One section of Gibbs’ website said having more women in workplaces “strains” men by keeping them from making offensive jokes and leading to “frivilous” (sic) sexual harassment lawsuits.
“In the post-feminist workplace, men must bend over backwards to make sure that they do not inadvertently offend any woman who might happen to hear a joke or comment uttered in humor and harmlessness,” the website read. “Numerous sexual harassment laws are introduced, which spawn a barrage of sexual harassment cases of frivolous proportions, wasting the time and energy of the courts and legal system, and taxpayer dollars.”
Gibbs’ website also said having more women in the workplace affected chemistry and led to less qualified employees.
“Businesses must make a concerted effort to hire and promote women who may or may not be up to par with their male counterparts,” he said. “In addition, the chemistry of having women in a masculine environment may reduce business cohesiveness and productivity from what it might have been otherwise (this is especially true of the military, although by no means limited to it). Needless to say all these things subtract from a team’s effort to produce efficiently.”
“Therefore, since the increased presence of women in the workplace does not benefit men, women, or business operations, there is no factual basis on which to claim that it is better to have more women in the workplace,” he concluded.
CNN’s DJ Judd and Omar Jimenez contributed to this report.