Louisiana Republican Rep. Kenny Havard is refusing to apologize after provoking outrage with his proposal that strippers should be no older than 28 and no heavier than 160 pounds.
The proposal, which Havard claims was a joke, came on Wednesday amid a debate over an anti-human trafficking bill that would require strip club dancers in Louisiana to be at least 21 years old.
A number of legislators were outraged by Havard’s amendment and by the reaction from some male lawmakers, who responded to the proposal by laughing and jokingly leaving dollar bills at the podium during the debate.
Republican Reps. Nancy Landry and Julie Stokes both took the floor to condemn Havard’s “disgusting” remarks and other incidents of sexism in the House, with Stokes saying, “Looking over this body, I’ve never been more repulsed to be a part of it,” according to The Washington Post.
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“I refuse the spirit of everything that I’ve heard. I just can’t even believe the behavior in here,” Stokes continued. “We need to call an end to this. I hear derogatory comments about women in this place regularly. I hear and see women getting treated differently than men, and you know what, you gave me a perfect forum to talk about it. That was utterly disrespectful and disgusting.”
“I respect Rep. Havard, but I don’t know what he was thinking,” she added.
Havard later told The Times-Picayune that his amendment was intended as a joke about government overreach. “It was a poke at overregulating everything – where are we going to stop?” he said. “It was aimed at both men and women. I can’t strip either. I’m a little overweight.”
Asked whether he agreed with Stokes’ allegation that women are treated differently than men in the Legislature, he replied, “I haven’t seen that at all That’s why I’m not going to go apologize. It would give credence to that comment.”