Does America still have problem with intelligent women eyeing White House?
Half-dozen female candidates ran for President this year, but most of them have ended their presidential campaigns. Now, the eventual Democratic nominee out of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden will battle Trump, the President who has a history of making controversial and derogatory remarks about women.
The 2020 Democratic presidential race to take on Republican Donald Trump began with a record number of women contesting for the nomination. But now, sadly, it has come down to a faceoff between two White men -- Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden -- in their 70s. This indicates that Americans are still not confident enough that a woman as a President can be in the best interests of their country.
Half-dozen female candidates ran for President this year, but most of them have ended their presidential campaigns. This has left several female voters with a sense of sadness, in part because it will be another four years before a woman has a shot at the White House.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race earlier this week, months after the exits of California Senator Kamala Harris, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and self-help author Marianne Williamson.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard is still in the presidential race. But she has won just a single delegate compared with the hundreds collected by Sanders and Biden. The eventual Democratic nominee out of these two men will battle Trump, the President who has a history of making controversial and derogatory remarks about women. His lewd remark in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape about grabbing women "by the p***y" is perhaps the most notorious of the ones he has made till now. This particular demeaning comment made headlines in 2016.
According to CNN, “the irony of that outcome of male dominance in 2020 carried a sharp sting in this dawning age of female empowerment -- when the #MeToo movement has reshaped office politics and put Harvey Weinstein behind bars; when women voters sent record-breaking numbers of female lawmakers to Congress, leading to Democrats taking back the House; when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can embody girl power by towering over a table of White House suits pointing an accusatory finger at the President”.
Asked whether gender played an important role in her unsuccessful presidential bid, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said: "Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for every woman. If you say, 'Yeah, there was sexism in this race,' everyone says, 'Whiner.' And if you say, 'No, there was no sexism,' about a bazillion women think, 'What planet do you live on?' "
"One of the hardest parts of this (bowing out of the race) is all those pinky promises, and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years," Warren said.
Senator Kamala Harris, who had entered the presidential race as one of the most promising Democratic candidates, told reporters on Capitol Hill that this election cycle has "presented very legitimate questions about the challenges of women running for President of the United States."
"We can have a longer discussion about it, but the reality is that there's still a lot of work to be done to make it very clear that women are exceptionally qualified and capable of being the commander-in-chief of the United States of America," Harris added.
After leaving the race, Senator Amy Klobuchar told The New York Times she has "often stepped back and wondered, well, is it -- were they looking for a man to run against Donald Trump? Maybe in another election. I don't know."
When looking at women running for office, political science scholar Kelly Dittmar of Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University says the problems centre around role expectations.
"We have certain expectations of gender roles, how women should act, what traits they have, and then we have expectations of what leaders look like, what are their traits, areas of expertise," Prof Dittmar said.
"And for women, the congruity between the gender expectations and the candidacy expectations have been in conflict for much of our history," the scholar added.
Women have vied for the White House in the past -- Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina in 2016, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run, in 1972, back to Victoria Woodhull in 1872, to name a few.
According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there is an “element of misogyny” that undermines women like Elizabeth Warren in their bid for the White House.
“Every time I get introduced as the most powerful woman, I almost cry, because I wish that were not true,” Pelosi said earlier this week, adding that some of the bias against female presidential candidates isn’t “mean spirited” and reflects more deep-seated gender divisions in society.
Trump has, however, shot down questions about whether sexism hit the presidential campaign of Warren, claiming instead that the she was done under by a “lack of talent”.
“She had a tremendous lack of talent… she is a very mean person and people don't like her. People don't want that,” the US President said, adding that "people like a person like me, who is not mean".
Jess Morales Rocketto, former digital organizing director for Hillary Clinton, said Warren’s fall was “disappointing” and made her feel the way she did after 2016.