As conversations about politics always go, I can never remember how they start rolling. But, somehow, on a peaceful Saturday afternoon, my dad and I started talking about politics—specifically, women in politics. It was the weekend after Hillary Clinton had chosen Tim Kaine as her vice presidential candidate. I was eating my noodles in silence, when my dad asked me out of nowhere:
“What do you think of Hillary Clinton’s vice president pick?”
I told him I thought it was strategic for her to pick Tim Kaine. For one, he’s a Senator from Virginia, and that might appeal to more Southern voters (who tend to be more conservative). He’s also very religious, and that may help to bring Hillary more votes from Catholics. He can also speak Spanish, which gives Clinton’s campaign a huge (YUGE–sorry) advantage over Trump’s in appealing to Hispanic voters. I suppose Kaine being able to play the harmonica doesn’t hurt either. Besides that, though, I said that a fair amount of Democrats—myself included—really wanted Elizabeth Warren as Clinton’s VP pick. She’s one of the most beloved progressives, and she would have really helped the campaign to appeal to the more progressive Democrats (especially young voters, where Clinton is noticeably lacking). She has continually fought important issues regarding education, equality among minorities, and the top 1%. Most recently, she has strongly called for Wells Fargo’s CEO to resign (read: in total BAMF fashion, kicked his sorry ass) after its fraud cases were released.
But I digress; back to the conversation with my dad.
My dad replied to me, “But I think Tim Kaine was a good pick because it was strategic and also because it makes it more diverse.”
I remember wanting to laugh out loud. What in the world was he talking about? MORE diverse? In my head I was shouting at him, IF YOU WANT “MORE DIVERSITY” HOW ABOUT HAVING MORE WOMEN IN CONGRESS? OR PEOPLE OF COLOR? QUEER PEOPLE? ANYONE WHO ISN’T A PRIVILEGED WHITE MALE?
But that’s not what I said to him.
Instead I replied, “I can’t believe you just said that. I can’t have this conversation anymore.” And then proceeded to eat the rest of my noodles in silence.
Okay, so not the best response. Family tensions about politics aside, this begs the question: why are people so against a female president-female vice president ticket, or the Double W ticket, as I like to call it? It’s not just my dad, but even the media asking ridiculous questions like, “Is America ready for a potential female president and vice president?”
For a lot of people, clearly fucking not.
It seems evident that a lot of Americans are very uncomfortable with seeing two women in the White House. Why?
Perhaps it is just that these people are not used to seeing women in positions of power, and feel uncomfortable with it. Perhaps they believe that women are weak, unfit for the stressful occupation of Commander-in-Chief and Vice President. Perhaps they are afraid that with two women as the President and Vice President, this will encourage more women to strive for government jobs, leaving less room for men to have these positions.
But these opinions are rooted entirely in sexism. The women running for positions in Congress have just as much educational qualifications as their male counterparts, they can handle stress just as well as men can. In fact, with women constantly facing sexism and being put in difficult situations, with more barriers to overcome to get where they are today, I wouldn’t be surprised if they handled stress better than they men could. Multiple studies have also proven that more women, and in general more diversity, in the workplace increases productivity*.
This raises another question: why is it so easy for people to accept a male president and vice president ticket? Why not a female-female one as well? Women in politics are just as qualified as men in politics; our gender does not make us any less competent.
There is no question that voters hold female candidates to higher standards than male candidates. The Boston Globe stated, “They [voters] afford them [women candidates] a ‘virtue advantage’ — the expectation is that women are inherently more honest and ethical — but quickly knock them off that pedestal if they slip up. And when it comes to mistakes, women have little room to make them*.”
Cue banging head against wall.
As Election Day is coming around the corner (*heavy breathing*), I’m still thinking about this conversation with my dad. Because if America can’t come to terms with the idea of a Double W ticket (or for some, even the idea of a female president) in 2016, when will America start turning the conversation from one solely focused on gender to one centered on the legitimate qualifications of the nominees and their campaign platforms?
University of Michigan, Class of 2020
*For an example, see: Peter Dizikes, Study: Workplace diversity can help the bottom line, MIT News, October 7, 2014, http://news.mit.edu/2014/workplace-diversity-can-help-bottom-line-1007
*Barbara Lee, The real reasons we’ve never had a woman president, The Boston Globe, October 20, 2015, https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/10/20/the-real-reasons-never-had-woman-president/fAHLOzDXYD8Fp7GEn38wkO/story.html
*image credit: Andrew Harnik http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-hillary-clinton-elizabeth-warren-ohio-20160627-story.html