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Arnold Schwarzenegger regrets calling his political rivals “girly men” over a decade ago, he said in an interview published Wednesday.
“At the time it felt like the right thing to do. . . I called them girly men because they weren’t willing to take risks,” the 71-year-old told Men’s Health magazine.
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The “Terminator” star didn’t say he regretted it because of sexism, but because of a lack of collegiality.
“It was shortsighted. In the long term, it’s better to not say that, because you want to work with them,” he said.
“When you can reach out across the aisle and work together, you can get much more accomplished.”
In 2004, the then-California governor mocked his state legislators, saying, “I call them girly men” and urging voters to “terminate” them on Election Day — spurring the ire of Democratic lawmakers as well as LGBT and feminist groups, who decried the remark as sexist, The Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
The remark was an apparent reference to a Saturday Night Live sketch in which comedians Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon played Schwarzenegger-like pumped up bodybuilders who spoke with Austrian accents and dismissed anyone who wasn’t as buff as them as a “girly men.”
Schwarzenegger used the derogatory phrase again at the 2004 Republican National Convention in Madison Square Garden, where he spoke about what it means to be a Republican.
“You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy. And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don’t be economic girly men,” he’d proclaimed.
In the same interview Schwarzenegger, apologized again for his past behavior towards women, saying he’s learned from his mistakes. Six women accused him of groping them, with the allegations spanning three decades, The Los Angeles Times reported in 2003.
Schwarzenegger apologized for behaving “badly” at times towards women but denied some of the allegations in a campaign speech in 2003.
“Looking back, I stepped over the line several times, and I was the first one to say sorry,” he told the magazine. “I feel bad about it, and I apologize. When I became governor, I wanted to make sure that no one, including me, ever makes this mistake. That’s why we took sexual harassment courses, to have a clear understanding, from a legal point of view and also from a regular-behavior point of view, of what is accepted and what is not.”
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