Warren’s Woman Problem and the Conversation That’s Been Hiding in the Closet

*I saved the image of Warren from Twitter and wish I knew who the artist was. If you know, please advise, because I think that artists need to be given proper credit. I love this image as it hearkens back to the three gorgeous images of women right before the first Women’s March in 2017.
I don’t know if I’m going to add anything substantial to the conversation we’ve been having all week, but as a 60 year old woman, I might. Or maybe we just start talking about this election from where we are. Besides, I have to get so much pent-up frustration off my chest. We started this race with so many brilliant and diverse women’s voices on that stage and we’re left with the viability of two, old, white men. It’s a gut punch. What’s worse, almost all of the articles talking about the elephant in the room — sexism — are by women.  Where are the men in this fight?  My guess is that they are probably hiding behind the women who are still drumming up excuses for why they couldn’t support Warren, the last woman standing. Arguably the best candidate on that Democratic stage.
 
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with friends — dear friends — women friends — who either hesitated or wouldn’t vote for Warren because they weren’t sure she was electable. They complained about her likability — I even heard about her voice and her manner of speech. I heard over and over about her mistakes. I countered with her credentials; I mentioned how refreshing it was to have a candidate who listened, asked questions, and adjusted. I asked about Bernie’s voice and his “my way or the highway” approach, Biden’s gaffs and past votes, Bloomberg’s albatross of “stop and frisk” and his gobs of money. I fought back as tempered as I could but I often got a friendly eye-roll. More often than not, they blamed it on the “fact” that they didn’t think “other” people would vote for her. It’s clear that unconscious bias against women BY women is alive and well in this country. And that, as much as anything, is heartbreaking.
I know it’s been said in more places than I can count, but Warren COULD have won if people had JUST VOTED FOR HER.  I’m left shaking my head.
 
Diversity matters because it makes us ALL better. Warren pushed everyone on that stage to be better; her debate performances were consistently the best we’ve ever seen; her actual accomplishments were stellar and arguably better than most on that stage. She was certainly light years better than what we’re left with.  Good Lord, I don’t know if I can stand to watch the next debate. I’m grateful to have already cast my primary vote. 
 
I’ve had conversations about sexism all my life, but it has taken me a long time to find my voice, to know that I have agency here. I have to work very hard, every day, to check my own bias about so many things, to question my own beliefs. To that end, my two incredible daughters have challenged me and pushed me — and for that I am grateful. Sometimes it stings but the result is that my vision is a little clearer. Often, I am left with some residual anger and overwhelm over how BIG the problems are. 
 
Warren was right. The conversation over sexism is a trap — and I may have opened the door here. As I said to a friend this morning, these conversations aren’t going to be easy but we better be willing to have them.  Facing our own unconscious bias is hard, until you realize that we ALL have it. As Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt explains in her book BIAS, our brains naturally categorize to make sense of the world — and those categories are inherently biased. I encourage you to pick it up if you haven’t read it.  It’s eye-opening.
The conversations have to start at our kitchen tables, but they better span out to our local businesses and our corporate board rooms. Women are doing incredible things and shattering all kinds of norms, but not when it comes to being elected to the President of the United States. As my mother used to say, “Dear Peter, Mary, and St. Joseph” isn’t it time we FINALLY had that hard conversation? Isn’t it time we look at the fact that no matter how accomplished the candidate, we find all kinds of excuses not to elect her? Isn’t it time we FINALLY have a WOMAN as president? We may have just missed our best chance yet.

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