I remember sitting on my parents' couch in 2016, watching the maps turn red, and feeling disbelief, though disbelief is maybe not the right word. It was more a sneaking, queasy confirmation of something I had not let myself quite believe: that women are thought so little of that even in a contest of compromises, people will choose a fatally flawed awful man over a complicated competent woman.
I remember being fifteen and arguing at school about what was fair and what was equal. It felt like I was constantly having these arguments, pointing out to teachers and administrators and students and parents that things were unfair, horribly unfair in many, many ways, and that they could be better if we tried—that actually, even only a little trying and thoughtfulness would make things much better. This was never a popular message. One particular day, a day when I can't remember what I was arguing about, just the endless arguing, I do remember this kid Kevin turning around and looking at me, and saying, "You know, you make me think that maybe a woman could be president." I remember feeling flattered and appalled. Maybe? Of course, a woman could be president. Of course.
I am sitting here today, twenty-odd years later, and I don't understand how two aging male career politicians of dubious health became my only choice for president when there was a third candidate who had the best qualities of both and less downside ... oh right. Of course.
The grimmest irony is that Sanders and Biden are both emotional choices. One old man makes people feel safe. One old man makes people feel righteous and excited. Woot woot, I guess. OLD MEN 2020!!! I'll vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is—Trump is a blight, a boil, a plague, a menace, an insert-your-favorite-apocalyptic-adjective-here—and must be defeated, and women—Black women especially, and women of color—will carry on, doing "the custodial work of democracy" in the words of Dr. Brittany Cooper, but I supported Warren for reasons neither Biden or Sanders match.
- She had plans. I care about the progressive agenda, and I wanted someone with a concrete vision for how to make it happen, not just galvanizing rhetoric, and a track record of making change. She put in the work and the research.
- She could learn and evolve. Everyone is wrong sometimes, and I appreciated that she could admit it, listen, and improve. We are in a time when most of us do need to change, sometimes in radical ways, to meet the changing world we're living in, and it would have been extraordinary to have someone in charge who could model how to do that.
- She was many things—tough, fair, kind, brilliant—but also funny and joyful. It made me believe that the grim future still holds hopeful possibilities as long as we are willing to work together.
Teenaged me would be shocked to know that I have to type this next sentence, sitting here at my desk in the year 2020: All I can hope is that I live to see a progressive woman president someday.
So, if you feel like you've eaten a rage sandwich today, that you somehow need to pick dumb Internet fights or scrub the hell out of the bathroom or run until your lungs and legs hurt too much to move forward—yeah. Same here. Let's give ourselves a day or two to feel it all before we pull up our socks and help one old man beat another old man so we can get the terrible old man out of office.
Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for everyone. If you say, 'Yeah there was sexism in this race,' everyone says, 'Whiner!' If you say, 'No there was no sexism in this race,' about a bazillion women think, 'What planet do you live on?'
Senator Elizabeth Warren, speaking to PBS NewsHour, 3/5/2020.
You can tell me and you can tell me and you can tell me—but let me tell you: There's not a lie I haven't heard about what a woman can and cannot do. At my age, every act of sexism and misogyny is an encore production.
Connie Schultz, "A Not-So-Super Tuesday." Creators.com, 3/5/2020.
'When you look at someone like Sanders, the way he behaves onstage, his mannerisms and his way of speaking, his single-mindedness, his very limited track record of getting anything done—a woman would have been torn apart,' [Sayu] Bhojwani said. As for Biden: 'Imagine a woman who had lost every state in every presidential primary, running for the third time.'
Ruth Graham, "I Waited Four Years for This?!" Slate, 3/5/2020.
Kate Manne, a philosopher at Cornell University, describes misogyny as an ideology that serves, ultimately, to reinforce a patriarchal status quo. “Misogyny is the law-enforcement branch of patriarchy,” Manne argues. It rewards those who uphold the existing order of things; it punishes those who fight against it. It is perhaps the mechanism at play when a woman puts herself forward as a presidential candidate and finds her attributes—her intelligence, her experience, her compassion—understood as threats. It is perhaps that mechanism at play when a woman says, 'I believe in us,' and is accused of being 'self-righteous.'
Megan Garber, "America Punished Elizabeth Warren for her Competence." The Atlantic, 3/5/2020.
If American women earned minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion last year.
Gus Wezerek and Kristen R. Ghodsee, "Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000." NYT, 3/5/2020.
Nevertheless, you must persist.
Elizabeth Warren, "The Fight Goes On." 3/5/2020.