I personally hate engaging with people who have different political/moral values than I do via social media. I feel like the process is just long and complicated and (in my case) sweaty and painful. However, while scrolling through twitter this morning I ran into my homegirl Elizabeth Warren who straight up called. out. Ted Cruz in a nine tweet long EPIC TWITTER RANT:
Warren tweeted this earlier today in response to an email sent by Ted Cruz essentially complaining about how hard it is to run for President. And, while I’m willing to bet that running for president is no walk in the park, my girl Elizabeth was totally right to call him out. In fact, that’s the main reason why I love this woman so much. She isn’t afraid to speak her honest opinion, even if it means engaging with someone who has fundamentally different values. However, it is this SAME character trait that brings her so much gendered criticism in the political arena.
It’s certainly no surprise that recent studies have found that gender highly influences the type of media portrayal an individual receives. For instance, women often receive more coverage on their appearances or character traits than on actual political issues whereas men, typically don’t have this issue. Ergo when the media does critique a woman for her political statements/action it’s assumed that they’re simply “unfeminine”. A woman who speaks her mind is considered bossy, unnecessarily mean, a bitch.
Think back to the 2008 election. Hilary Clinton is still running for the democratic nomination and in South Carolina, a woman asks republican presidential candidate John McCain: “How do we beat the bitch?” To which McCain replies: “That’s an excellent question!” Clinton was already used to this type of rhetoric and gendered stereotypes. From the time she began the race she was deemed “too ambitious” to appeal to voters. Okay, seriously? Since when is a candidate ever “too ambitious”? That’s like saying someone is “too pumped” to watch the next season of OITNB or “too relieved” not to have failed a test: pretty ridiculous.
The type of language used to portray women in politics is destructive and punishing to those who exhibit any quality resembling assertiveness- and yet we still question why women have so few seats in office. How can we expect a woman to succeed in politics, in any career, if we strip her of the qualities she need for success? We can not call all female leaders aggressive, bossy, cold, or calculating. They are determined, ambitious, confident, and smart. We’ve got to strip the gender stereotypes out of the language we use to describe women in politics.
So Elizabeth Warren called Ted Cruz a whiner and, while that may not have been the best use of her words, she wasn’t wrong. Running for president is hard Ted Cruz, but so is being a woman in politics. Okay, right or wrong, taking responsibility for what we say is a crucial part of the human experience. So stop, recognize, and listen (#VanillaIce) to what is being said about women in politics.
Featured image: Tim Pierce