Let’s Just Be Done With Excuses For Why Women Aren’t Running In Democratic Primaries

Let’s just be done with excuses for why women aren’t running in Democratic primaries, shall we? Let’s be done with excuses for why it is always some other man’s turn.

Yes, we know who gets invited to the golf course.

We got it.

Yes, we know that you find our ambition grating, our knowledge overwhelming, our qualifications a symbol of being “too establishment” or a liability in our “ability to connect.”

We know that you are delving deep into the psychology of why women don’t run, how we have to be asked several times, and how if we just thought more highly of ourselves then maybe it would happen.

We are also uninterested in you blaming us and our inner states, personally, for why centuries of male dominance are continuing today — even though none of the men who are actually holding the power mean it in any sort of oppressive way, lass.

We are up to our ears with Republicans who fundamentally disrespect our humanity and Democratic men who are said to be better for women than, well, the women who are the backbone of the party.

I stopped accepting your excuses for why women aren’t taking the elected seats years ago; you can still tell them to me, and I will listen. I will nod for your reasons, for even if I haven’t heard them before, together they make the most lovely quilt we can present to our daughters with the shrug that maybe their generation can do better.

Well, no. I refuse to teach my daughter that women should wait their turn.

I got angry the first time I took her out in a baby carrier to get out the vote and realized that in the allegedly most progressive corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia we were working to elect nine men and no women. In the Democratic Party. Four years later, in 2017, Arlington Democrats added literally one woman to the picture — out of nine candidates they wanted us to elect. Now, in 2018, we have what The Washington Post calls “two newcomers [battling] for Democratic nomination to Arlington County Board.” No shade to these lovely men, but there is nothing new about having men hold the gavels and women hold the clipboards, and I’m just done.

Those moments in life when we stop accepting our own excuses are the most powerful. I am no longer accepting my own excuses about why I cannot run for office — if you know me personally, you know my No. 1 line is that Arlington is a big pond with political people from D.C. who have a long line of succession, and if I lived somewhere else, I’d do it. I realize now that my excuse sounds a lot like another patch on the quilt of excuses for why Charles is almost always in charge. I am giving up my own excuses now about why I can’t run for office. I can run for office, I’m just not doing it right now. I encourage you to give up your excuses with me.

 

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I Waited Until The Polls Closed To Say This: It’s Insulting To Have Only Men Running On Women’s Issues

I waited until the polls closed to say this:

It’s insulting to have only men running on women’s issues.

I live in Virginia. I am a feminist. I am a Democrat. And, I am disgusted.

This is me and my daughter doing a September literature drop in Arlington for the Democratic slate. At the time, she was 15 weeks old:

canvassing

We walked for hours through the heat distributing copies of a newsletter featuring the photographs of nine men the Democratic party urged Arlingtonians to vote for. No women.

You don’t need me to tell you women’s issues are front and center in the Virginia election. Nearly every ad on television has been about abortion, and/or has featured women surrogates speaking for candidates on both sides. I have been receiving invitations to attend events with “the candidate’s wives.” As I type, the races have not been called and all local and national pollsters are talking about women voters. Because, duh, that is a major part of what this election is about.

The more I walked with my daughter, the madder I got. What kind of feminist mom am I?

Every day I work for policies that will support her future. It is important to me to include her in some of my work. I want her to understand how politics work. We have not just campaigned together, we have gone lobbying on Capitol Hill together. I want her to see public service as accessible. There is a woman suffrage poster in her nursery. I have been encouraging her to run for Governor of Virginia when she grows up.

By no means do I want to send a message to her that women’s issues are important, and they are best handled by men.

By public appearances at least, the feminist infrastructure in my state supports all the Democratic men without making public comments about how wrong it is that women weren’t included — not just as wives, not just as issues, not just as voters — but on the ticket.

It is unacceptable to run on women’s issues without women on the ticket. Men can and should run in support of women’s rights, but men also need to make room for women to share leadership with them. I am new to Virginia, having moved here in March. Perhaps some will say I am naive. I made a decision to not say anything about this until the polls had closed. I considered whether to say anything at all.

It’s true that I am a newcomer and don’t know the intricacies of the Arlington Democratic politics. It’s also true that I vehemently agree that this year’s Republican ticket was dangerous for women, and I was committed to electing Democrats.

But clearly, whatever excuses I’m about to get, the continuous presence of unchecked “women are important! let’s have men lead the way!” messages and deeds is pandering and it’s wrong.

I will not remain silent through a future election cycle. It should have been a woman running against Ken Cuccinelli. At a minimum, there should have been women running down the ticket.

If Democrats want to run campaigns on women’s issues, and I agree that they should, they must immediately begin to make room for women on the ticket. Women must run. And the party must support us in our capacity as not just constituents, but leaders.