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Who Are The Gilead Wives Club Women?
Republican women in the Texas House are pushing Christofascist agendas and taking away women's rights.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Handmaid’s Tale, the book or the show, it’s a story about women in a not-so-far-from-reality dystopia. It takes place in the country of Gilead, which rose when America fell to far-right extremists. It’s a patriarchy where women have no rights. And all of the women are split into various roles.
The Handmaids are young, fertile, and assigned to Commanders and their wives to be raped, bred, and have their children taken. The Marthas are the housekeepers and laborers. Aunts keep the Handmaids in line. And the wives? They hold the Handmaids down while their husbands rape them.
The Handmaid’s Tale has become popular because of the often frightening similarities to modern-day society. And the Republican women in the Texas House play similar roles to the wives of Gilead, which is why they are the Gilead Wives Club because if it were Gilead, they undoubtedly would hold other women down as they were raped.
Yesterday, they all took to the front mic for an oppressive bill, standing in unison as they often do. Are they aware of the optics? It’s hard to tell, but it was the perfect opportunity to snap a photo, which has now gone viral.
The question asked, again and again, was, “Who are these women?”
So, let’s get into it.
The ring leader and HBIC.
Representative Valoree Swanson is the puppet master of these ladies. I’ve often referred to her as “Tony Soprano” because she has been known to bully the other Republican women in the Texas House, hold secrets over their heads, and even blackmail them.
Swanson was elected to the House in 2016 in District 150 and was the first woman to ever serve in the Texas Freedom Caucus. Although, this year, the Freedom Caucus has expanded to include Carrie Isaac, Terri Leo-Wilson, and Ellen Troxclair.
As a Republican Harris County representative, Swanson has made one of her biggest priorities in the Texas House disenfranchisement. She co-sponsored the bill, which ended straight-ticket voting and voted against allowing people to use mail-in voting, voted for withholding election funds from counties, blocked houseless people from voting, and cut voting hours.
Swanson has sat on the House Elections Committee for several sessions and is the House version of Voter Oppression Czar Senator Paul Bettencourt. During the 87th Legislative Session, Swanson teamed up with Briscoe Cain to push the Jim Crow-type legislation, which prompted Democrats to break quorum. And in 2022, when Harris County GOP launched a campaign to disenfranchise disabled people, Swanson was intimately involved.
The only other thing Swanson has focused on, besides the disenfranchisement of Harris County, has been taking away women’s rights and pushing Christofascist ideas, like in 2017 when she co-sponsored a bill to deny adoption placements based on religion. Or how before abortions were banned, she passed legislation that increased costs and made it harder for minors to obtain. She was also a co-sponsor of the triggering bill, overturning Roe v. Wade. Those bills are just the tip of the iceberg. I would encourage everyone to check out her bills and voting history.
Why is Swanson leading the pack?
The other GOP women fear her because Swanson has so much pull with big donors, right-wing influencers, and the Freedom Caucus. So, Republican women in the House comply with Swanson and allow themselves to be bullied and pushed around because the consequences for them could be devastating. Loss of donations or being drawn out of their district have all been threats levied against them by Swanson.
These women will be seen in the Capitol traveling in a pack, and when one of them has a bill, they will crowd around her at the podium when she discusses or debates her, which is why they keep giving us so many congenial photos.
Geanie Morrison - Stephanie Klick - Candy Noble.
Although Morrison and Klick were elected before Swanson, they still have become subservient to her in recent years. It’s interesting to watch these women and how they interact with Swanson in committees. For example, if Swanson lays out a bill in a hearing and no one is asking her questions, one of these women will pipe up and ask something random to give Swanson more opportunity to speak.
Especially Stephanie Klick, who fawns over Swanson every chance she gets. Klick is currently the House GOP Majority Leader and the Chair of the Public Health Committee, but Swanson is always in her ear, guiding her decisions and choices she makes in those roles.
Without Swanson, none of these ladies would be more than furniture as they have failed in their years in the Legislature to show leadership qualities or pass meaningful legislation. They keep getting elected because gerrymandering is a hell of a thing.
Shelby Slawson - Lacey Hull.
Both of these ladies joined the Legislature during the 87th Legislative Session. Since day one, they have followed Swanson around how baby chicks follow a mama duck.
Shelby Slawson was the author of SB8 last session, the so-called heartbeat bill, which banned abortions at 6-weeks.
According to Slawson, the reason she wanted to ban abortions for all women in Texas was because of her heartbreak over her own miscarriage. Showing us all that she legislates based on her emotions and not what’s best for Texas women.
Ironically, the other thing that Slawson and Hull had in common besides following Swanson around like a mother hen is that they allegedly had affairs with their coworkers during the last legislative session.
Hull’s affair was far from secret, and after I initially broke the story in December 2020, several other news outlets picked it up. Moreover, some of Hull’s leaked text messages that made their way to Barstool Sports implied she was pegging her married coworker, Representative Cole Hefner.
During the 87th Legislative Session, Slawson was spotted at an Austin bar canoodling with her married coworker Representative Jared Patterson and rumors of an affair plagued them both throughout that session. While this affair was never confirmed publicly, Slawson and Patterson blocked me on Twitter when I asked them about it. Since her return to the House this year, it has been noticed that Slawson no longer wears the giant wedding ring she had in the 87th.
Carrie Isaac - Ellen Troxclair - Caroline Harris.
These three women are all newly elected. Early on, we questioned whether or not they would become solid members of the Gilead Wives Club. However, their actions since being elected prove they have fallen in line with Valoree Swanson.
Last week, Republicans passed a sweeping authoritarianism bill, ending local control for cities and counties. During the debate for that bill, Victoria Neave-Craido offered an amendment, Amendment #28.
The amendment said the bill not apply to an ordinance, order, or rule that prohibits sexual harassment, including an unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favor, or any other verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature, if: (1) submission to the advance, request, or contact is made a term of an individual’s employment; (2) submission to or rejection of the advance, request, or contact is used as the basis for a decision affecting an individual’s employment; or (3) the advance, request, or contact: (A)AAhas the purpose of interfering with an individual’s employment; or (B) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
In layman’s terms, the amendment said that if a rule, order, or law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, then that rule, order, or law cannot be ignored if the harassment is used as a way to force someone to do something they don’t want to do, used to make decisions about their job, or if it creates a hostile work environment.
Every single Republican woman (except Angelia Orr, who was absent) voted against this amendment. And while the recorded vote is questionably missing from the daily House journal, I happened to have saved it after someone posted it to Twitter.
Every Republican woman (except Orr) voted against protecting women from sexual abuse or harassment in the workplace. And THAT is why they belong in the Gilead Wives Club.
Then, there are the Republican women who haven’t pledged a blood oath to Valoree Swanson.
Angie Chen Button - Angelia Orr - Kronda Thimesch.
Angie Chen Button has been in the House for several sessions and has never been part of the Republican women’s clique behavior. Perhaps she’s smart. Perhaps they won’t allow her in. We can only speculate on the reason.
Orr and Thimesh are freshmen representatives.
It’s likely that Orr’s husband won’t allow her to join Swanson’s club as she is an obedient wife whose entire identity revolves around her husband, Will Orr. Orr’s website bio prioritized her husband’s accolades above her own. Since Orr has taken an anti-feminist position in her identity, it’s safe to assume that her husband is behind the scenes, telling her which positions to hold and how to vote.
Thimesch is a wild card. No one knows where she stands yet, but she hasn’t been seen gallivanting around with Swanson and crew.
Last but certainly not least, there is Valoree Swanson’s arch nemesis.
Leo-Wilson and Swanson are long-time Harris County Republicans and have had a bitter feud going on for years. Neither has made their feelings about the other secret within Republican circles.
While both women put a smile on in public and give the appearance of having a superficial relationship with the other, behind the scenes, it is likely a messy situation. Leo-Wilson is a Capricorn with a Type-A personality who is just as power-hungry as Swanson.
Keep an eye on how these two interact with one another.
Are you ready to vote them out yet?
Unfortunately, we still have to deal with them until November 2024 but know that these Republican women would be the ones holding down the Handmaid if we were in Gilead.