The entire feminist world has spent several days mourning Elizabeth Warren’s (and every other female candidate’s) departure from the presidential race. I don’t want or need to pile on to the “why didn’t she get traction” narrative that’s, in many cases, being driven by the media outlets that minimized or erased her when she was actually in the race.
I started to read this article in The Atlantic because it seemed to back up two recent epiphanies I’ve written about professional women. The headline grabbed me: “America Punished Elizabeth Warren for Her Competence.”
We are used to the argument (backed up by data) that women have to be far more competent to get the same treatment as a man. The galling thing to many women about the last presidential election was how much more—objectively—competent Hillary Clinton was than Donald Trump.
But for all that hard work, Clinton had in part gotten to this position in the way we expect a lot of women to excel and have access to power: Via family connections. Elizabeth Warren was something different. She also lacked Cliton’s “baggage” of her husband’s scandals and her own scandals. Whether you think those were fair or not isn’t the point. Warren didn’t have them, and that couldn’t be used to cover the sexist reasons not to back her. And Warren, arguably, had just as much competence and a solution for every problem that plagues the nation.
The headline of this piece—that Warren was punished for her competence—is a subtle distinction from the hand-wringing about Hillary but, I think, an important one to consider.
It’s similar to a recent piece I wrote in this space and fleshed out more here. It’s about how female technical co-founders ironically face a higher bar getting venture capital than women who are primarily media brands, even though VCs say they want technical founders and the “pipeline” is the reason more women don’t get funded.
The article also talks about her tone. The way she talks. How it evoked this disturbing and violent quote from one female voter: “When I hear her talk, I want to slap her, even when I agree with her.” That’s when I stopped reading the article, so disturbed by that horrifying misogyny of that line. But I recently also wrote about how women get pushed to a point of yelling or crying and how they are punished when they do. So, yep. That too.
There’s only so much I can write about this without getting depressed or emotional. I couldn’t even finish reading this piece, to be honest. It’s one thing to grapple with how deeply universally sexist this is and another thing to watch so many people argue it isn’t even sexist at all, no matter how many women we watch it happen to.
If you have more of a stomach for it than I do right now, check out The Atlantic piece or those other pieces of mine if you missed them.
What am I going to do? I’m still going to vote, I’m still going to donate money to candidates I believe in. I might volunteer, depending on who the nominee is. But beyond that, I’ve got little to give to this election emotionally anymore. In my view, none of it seems to matter any more than panicking about the coronavirus matters.
I’ll be over here investing in the next generation hoping one day Americans break this tired old cycle, and trying to build a billion dollar company so that at least some VCs out there will regret not having backed a woman.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- Do you have experience with severe adolescent depression and inpatient therapy?
- Feeling under-appreciated at home and at work
- How do I structure parental leave at the company I work for?