2020 election

When Will We Stop Shaming Ambitious Women?

Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In recent months, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand seems to have begun positioning herself for a presidential run in 2020. She’s been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, pushed for Al Franken’s resignation, and endured a gross Twitter feud with the president. But despite her rising celebrity, a new op-ed in the Daily Beast suggests Gillibrand is too “too transparently opportunistic to be a viable candidate.”

Here we go again!

In an essay published on Friday, writer and editor Ciro Scotti compares Gillibrand to “another New York politician criticized for basing her positions on supposedly canny calculations rather than on from-the-gut convictions,” and says she doesn’t appear “genuine” enough to run against Trump. He writes:

For Gillibrand, nearly every move seems to be a self-serving playing of the angles. While it’s not surprising to see a politician behave this way, Gillibrand seems to be an especially egregious practitioner of the finger-in-the-wind politics that so many voters can no longer abide.

He goes on to reference Gillibrand’s calls for Al Franken’s resignation, her denunciation of Bill Clinton, and her withdrawal of support from Governor Greg Patterson in 2010 (after the New York Times reported that he had intervened on behalf of one of his longtime aides who was involved in a domestic-abuse case), citing these as examples of her carefully calculated, ever-changing allegiances.

“Maybe Gillibrand was right that Paterson should have resigned. Maybe she is right that Clinton should have stepped aside. Maybe she was right to give Franken a shove. Maybe she is right that Trump should exit the Oval Office and slink back to his tower,” Scotti concludes. “But one thing seems clear: Those denunciations and their timing were all designed to be right for Kirsten Gillibrand.”

All politicians are opportunistic; it’s practically a job requirement. But Scotti falls back on the same old, tired, lizard-brained and misogynistic argument that people used against Hillary Clinton: That ambitious women are off-putting. Not only that, he seems to say, Gillibrand is especially unappealing, because she seized political opportunities at the expense of men. The horror!

There are valid criticisms to be made about Gillibrand as a candidate, and I’m sure they will be over the course of the next three years. As Scotti’s op-ed confirms though, the road to 2020 will be long, tiresome, and full of sexist garbage — not that you’d thought otherwise.

When Will We Stop Shaming Ambitious Women?