For International Women’s Day, I want to tackle politics. I try not to be too divisive on this blog, but I think it’s important to talk about this.
As you’ve probably heard, Elizabeth Warren, after a long, hard, devoted campaign, has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. I was a Warren fan the whole time, and it’s…disheartening to see her lose so significantly in the primaries. I didn’t back her because she was a woman, I backed her because I agreed with her platform, supported the work she’d done in the past as a member of the Senate, and felt she had solid, clear-cut plans on how to implement her ideas. But let’s be real – Warren being a woman was certainly a bonus.
It’s 2020. Women have been allowed to vote for 100 years, a full century. We should have always had that right, it should never have been something that we were “allowed” to do, it should never have been a right for men to “give” us, but regardless, we’ve been voting for 100 years. We are more than half of the U.S. population. And until 2016, the country has not had a serious female candidate for president, much less one who actually won.
Women are still underrepresented in Congress, on the Supreme Court, in politics in general, in the business world. Warren running, and during her campaign I saw a lot of support for her, felt like the country was finally open to the barest possibility of a female president. She was well-spoken, she has a solid track record, she had clear-cut plans. She wasn’t over-emotional but also wasn’t stoic and uncaring, she wasn’t unattractive. She’s smart, she’s kind. She put in the work and the time. She was more relatable than Hilary Clinton. She should have been the perfect candidate.
Let’s look at the two current front-runners (and this is not a slam on them). Bernie Sanders is old, with Albert Einstein crazy hair. His voting record is solid, but his plans to implement his ideas leave something to be desired. And he yells – so much. He’s angry and emotional.
Biden. I think part of his campaign success is residual from his bromance with Obama, and I get it – I’ve felt some of that, too. But looking at his actual campaign, he’s been dull – or creepy. His platform is fairly loose, without clear-cut plans or even views on some topics. His voting record is mediocre at best, particularly for a Democrat in this millenium with some issues on race and women’s healthcare. He hasn’t been impressive in the debates.
So it’s really hard to not see some sexism in the campaigns so far. Warren checks all the boxes on what people look for from a presidential candidate. Bernie has united the people who are angriest about the political state of the country, because he’s angry too, and I get that. Biden united the older Democrats, because he falls more middle of the road on a lot of issues. But Warren checked boxes from both categories, resonated with a lot of women, and drew millennials, who are angry but not quite as angry, and certainly aren’t as conservative as the older group of Democrats. She could have united the party.
Warren is liked as a senator in Massachusetts, but most said they wouldn’t vote for her as president. She has a proven track record, but people questioned if she could make decisions. She connected with people at nearly every event, on every phone call, at every speech and debate, but people questioned her likability. People wondered whether or not she could win, despite her having handily won both of her Senate elections. (Sanders has lost elections for governor and the House, while Biden has lost the presidential nomination twice). Would these questions, under these circumstances, be asked of a man?
People said the Democratic party shouldn’t put forth a female candidate, because a female candidate lost in 2016 (a statement I have other issues with, but that’s not for now). No one claimed, after Dukakis or Gore or Kerry lost, that men couldn’t win the presidency.
We see plenty of sexism in politics. AOC is constantly called loud, mocked for her beliefs or her work history. Kristin Gillibrand has reported numerous comments about her body from other congresspeople.
We’ve watched Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh get confirmed on the Supreme Court after sexual harassment and assault allegations. We’ve watched an incoherent, temperamental, non-political, racist, sexist man with numerous allegations of rape, including one 13 year old victim, take the presidency.
So Warren losing the nomination, Warren with a clean past and a clean voting record. Smart, reasonable Warren. Warren losing the nomination is one more instance where any man is better than the best woman.
It’s another straw on the pile. This isn’t going to break my back yet, but it’s another straw. I’ve faced sexism in medical care. I’ve faced sexism at work. I’ve been stalked, groped, sexually harassed. I’ve been slut-shamed. I’ve been called a prude. I’ve been called less of a woman for not having kids, for having my uterus removed. I’ve dealt with the fact that because nothing dangles between my legs, I cannot safely travel to some places. I know that if I get angry, people will claim I’m emotional, and if I don’t, people say I’m cold. My back hasn’t broken yet. But, after a while, it does start to feel like it’s going to.
I’m not even angry. I’m just tired.
How am I supposed to tell my cousin she can do anything, when I’m not sure she can? I’m not sure she could be president, not because she’s not capable, but because sexism is sooo intrinsic, that I have doubts on whether or not we can actually break the cycle. It’s 2020, and we are still hearing the virgin/whore narrative. We are still hearing about how women are emotional, particularly on their period. We still hear how women are weak.
In another hundred years, are we still going to be hearing that?