Typical feminist. Feminists believe the world should just hand women everything they want wrapped up in a big shiny bow instead of insisting that women earn it. Women don’t need to be the best candidates for the job; men just need to quit so women can get to the top by default,
More women are seeking the party’s presidential nomination than ever before. And yet a few white men sit at the top of the polls and rake in big fundraising hauls. As candidates such as Sens. Kamala D. Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar lean in, maybe it’s time for some of their male competitors to find ways to lean out.
Early media coverage of the campaign demonstrates why merely leaning in can’t dismantle the double standards and deep structural misogyny women face. Studies by FiveThirtyEight and my colleagues at Northeastern University found both fewer “media mentions” of female candidates and also more negative coverage than of their male counterparts. Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke apparently merits multiple profiles, an HBO documentary about his failed Senate run and an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot in Vanity Fair — while Pete Buttigieg got a literally glowing New York magazine cover profile.
That’s funny because I seem to remember a candidate named Hillary Clinton whose entire claim to fame was marrying the right guy, being a mediocre senator and being a 4th rate Secretary of Defense. Basically, her entire argument for the presidency was, “I have a vagina and I deserve credit for things my husband did.” She had no charisma. She seemed too ill to be President. Republicans hated her more than just about anyone on earth BEFORE she ran for POTUS — and oh, yes, she had an FBI investigation hanging over her before she got the nomination. Liberals love to argue that she didn’t get favorable enough press coverage, but her coverage was orders of magnitude better than Trump’s. If anything, being a woman is a HUGE advantage in politics because there is nothing special about Hillary or for that matter, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, etc. They’re mediocrities who would be joke candidates if they weren’t female.
Now, back to the column,
First, they could do more than give the notion of privilege a cursory nod.
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They could refuse to give interviews to news organizations that have practiced gender discrimination in their coverage of the campaigns and say “no thanks” to the magazine covers that curiously feature only them. They could call out the disproportionate attention they receive, as well as the presumption that they are more electable by virtue of their gender, and instead point out the fact that the women running have already won multiple races, written many books, and have deep executive and policy experience — claims that could not be universally made of their male counterparts.
Male candidates should definitely stop offering a patronizing nod to women through the “offer” of a vice presidential spot on the ticket just so they keep on benefiting from the massive affirmative action plan that is male privilege. Naming Stacey Abrams his running mate wouldn’t actually fix Joe Biden’s problems with women — especially if, as Abrams said, that’s not actually a role she wants. Telling women we can play second fiddle is not proof of a commitment to equality.
Of course, some candidates don’t even offer women that much power. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts has as his main credential an unsuccessful effort to topple Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House.
The really radical thing for a male candidate to do in 2020 would be to step down and step away, realizing that real gender equity is achieved only when men actively refuse the benefits they receive simply for being born male.
Gender and racial equity are not zero-sum games: Everyone is a winner when we have a more diverse and representative government. But we can’t achieve that vision without men taking responsibility for the inordinate space they take up in the media and the candidate field.
There’s only one president and only so many seats in Congress or on corporate boards or as chief executives or union bosses. If we want to get even a rough version of parity, men will need to take less, have less, make less and, in so doing, recognize that the more they always got was at the expense of those who got less, courtesy of sexism.
I love the idea that by default if men do better in some certain field, sexism must be responsible. I don’t see any women going, “Gee, there are more female teachers than male teachers; so SEXISM must be responsible.” It’s also worth noting that Hillary Clinton arguably turned out to be the worst presidential candidate of all time and she got the job at least in part due to her gender.
Let’s also add that contrary to her assertion in the column, what she’s describing is a zero-sum game. The male candidates at the top are supposed to give up their ambitions to give less qualified female candidates a chance to win. In other words, say Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders needs to voluntarily choose to lose so Kamala Harris (who made a name for herself by being Willie Brown’s mistress) or Elizabeth Warren (whose academic career was built on being a fake Indian) can have the top slot. If a woman EARNS that slot, then so be it, but it shouldn’t be handed to her.
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