“She needs to lose weight. Like 50 lbs.”
“She looks like the inside of a used garbage bag.”
“She’s just a stay at home mom…she doesn’t know the real world.”
“She doesn’t have kids; why should she get a say?”
“I wish she’d wear more dresses.”
“I wish she’d wear fewer dresses.”
“She should smile more during speeches.”
“She looks like a drag queen.”
“If nobody wants to marry her, why should I vote for her?”
If reading these statements gave you a visceral response, you should know that they’ve all been said to or about myself or another female candidate during this very election cycle. A local election cycle. And while the popular advice has always been to just gut through it and ignore it, I’m not going to do that today. Because silence is acceptance, and this disgusting behavior should never fall into that category.
For the first time in Shawnee’s history, we have two female candidates running for mayor. That is worth noting…and celebrating. Not because we’re better than male candidates, but because as recent as ten or twenty years ago, this would probably have been unthinkable. And frankly, it should be an afterthought now. The focus should be on our policy differences, our vision for the future of our community, and our record…not on rooting for a “catfight”. That is disgusting and disrespectful – to everyone.
We all know the political rhetoric and vitriol have rapidly intensified as of late, and all of these comments do nothing but drag us farther down that rabbit hole of hate. We have to stop contributing. And yes, that includes all of us women as well. We shouldn’t care what a candidate feels comfortable wearing. And we shouldn’t have to justify why we prefer dressing one way, or participating in certain events, while demeaning other women for choosing another option.
I spent the first fifteen years of my life being teased over my appearance, and for never being able to afford the “cool” clothes and often wearing the same hand me downs. It was all I had, and I won’t apologize either for that, or for dressing as I try to today. I try to present an image that is respectful of the people I represent. Does that somehow make me more or less qualified to lead a city? No. And why don’t we ever speculate on the choices men make in their daily appearances?
So, come out behind your anonymous posting, keyboard warrior. Ask yourself whether you’d make these comments to your mother. Or your daughter.
Elections are about policy. Hard stop. There’s a lot at stake, and across our metro and the country, candidates are working around the clock to share their ideas with their friends, neighbors, and voters. And we should be listening…no matter if that message is coming from a business suit or a t-shirt and jeans. From a mom, or a single professional. From a man…or a woman.