Ever since Elizabeth Warren ended her presidential primary run, there’s been a deluge of articles analyzing what went wrong with her campaign. After all, on paper at least, Warren was the ideal Democratic candidate for 2020: brilliant, capable, experienced, compassionate, and female. She had real policies for fixing many of the problems that plague hard working Americans. She had a plan for everything. And after the near-miss in 2016, America seemed ready to put a smart, capable, qualified woman in the White House.
Political analysts looked everywhere for the reason Warren never placed higher than third in any primary — why she didn’t even win her home state of Massachusetts. Some argued she was doomed out of the gate by the mishandling of her claim of Native American ancestry and by allowing Trump to bait her into taking a DNA test. Others argued it was her public feud with Bernie Sanders over whether or not he told her that a woman couldn’t be elected president. One analysis laid the blame squarely at the feet of her chief campaign strategist Joe Rospars for softening her edges and trying to hide her image as a fighter, arguably her most compelling quality.
But most pundits came to the conclusion that, just like in 2016, the true reason for Elizabeth Warren’s failure was that we just don’t like women. Call it sexism, misogyny, testimonial injustice, or a double standard, the only logical explanation for why, in a campaign that began with a historically diverse field of candidates, the putative Democratic nominee for president in 2020 is an old white man.
But it wasn’t sexism that sank Warren’s campaign. Or Amy Klobuchar’s. Or even Hillary Clinton’s. It was invisibility. Elizabeth Warren’s problem isn’t that she’s a woman per se; it’s that she’s a middle-aged woman. And in our society, middle-aged women are simply invisible.
My 91 year old Aunt Heidi is a big fan of Mayor Pete, and last week in the middle of an engaging chat about his chances of winning the Democratic nomination, she confessed that it bothers her a little when Pete talks about “his husband.” It’s not the fact that he’s gay or that he’s married to a man — that doesn’t concern her at all. And she isn’t like the woman at the Iowa caucus who voted for Buttigieg and then discovered that he was gay and wanted her vote back. But when Pete says “my husband” it confuses Heidi. Shouldn’t he say “my wife”? or does Chasten call Pete his wife?
Did you know that in some societies it’s considered impolite to ask someone what they do for a living: it’s looked on as a backdoor way of asking how much money they make or of sussing out their social status. Rude! But here in the US, “What do you do?” is a perfectly acceptable question, as harmless and as common as “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “Paper or plastic?”
“So, what do you do?” You probably get asked that question all the time.
And for most people the response is pretty straightforward. “I’m a teacher.” “I sell cars.” “I’m in retail.” “I own my own business.”
But I always dreaded the question. Especially when it came up in conversation with my husband’s colleagues or business associates, all of whom were accomplished professionals with equally-accomplished spouses. Because my response to their simple question was never well-received.
Walk through any neighborhood on a sunny afternoon and you feel like you’re walking through a ghost town. No children are riding bikes, playing ball, or climbing trees. No adults are chatting together over the hedge. Houses stand empty all day. Even in the evening, people are sequestered away inside.
What are your pronouns? Do you prefer she/her? He/Him? They/them? Any of the above? Are you wondering what I’m talking about? No doubt you’re familiar with “pronouns” in the grammatical sense — those little words that refer back to a noun mentioned previously: he, she, it, they, etc. But maybe you’re not familiar with the idea of choosing one’s pronouns and then sharing that choice so that others know your preference.
You know it’s not just slutty liberal college women who are having sex.
Non-slutty women in monogamous relationships have sex too.
In fact, I have it on good authority that there are plenty of perfectly respectable, married, conservative, Christian women out there engaging in the act, many of them with their own husbands. And though I’m sure that most of them don’t enjoy it, some of them actually might. But that’s beside the point.
Mrs. Maisel is back with season two. More praise for this season. But not all of us think she’s a hit. Some of us still think the show’s a miss. Apparently even the New Yorker has soured on her sweetness. And some of us are sick to death of women being sold more unattainable expectations in the form of “harmless fantasy.”