In the wake of that debate, memes spread across the internet with a picture of Elizabeth Warren, declaring, “She’s electable if you fucking vote for her.”
But study after study confirms that more than any one fatal flaw, the mere fact of being a woman is the greatest barrier to success as a woman.
We’ve never seen a woman win the presidency, so we don’t believe a woman can. We have never seen a woman win because we’ve never let her. And we won’t let her win, because we don’t think she can.
At an event for undecided voters in January, I listened to a woman tell me that she was undecided because she liked Warren and Klobuchar, but she didn’t believe women had a chance. “Right now, I have to decide if it’s going to be harder to see a woman lose the nomination or lose in the general election,” she said. She ended up caucusing for Pete Buttigieg.
So not this time. It’s just not our turn—again.
In September 2019, I co-moderated a forum on LGBTQ issues and asked Joe Biden about his record on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. “Well aren’t you nice?” Biden said in response. Later, as we walked off the stage, he said, “Aren’t you a sweetheart?”
After Warren’s Super Tuesday defeat, a man left me a voicemail. He remembered what had happened at the forum. He wanted me to know he wasn’t sexist. “I just want to win,” he said. “You should want that too. So stop attacking Biden and get in line.”
I know what happened on the boat. And I do want to win. But I’m tired of a logic that asks me to take a backseat while a man leads. I’m tired of people who tell me to show up and do work for candidates who were never going to listen, who are willing to sell me out in order to compromise.
I’ll show up to the polls. As usual, men can count on women sucking it up and making the best of it, expecting sweethearts like me to get in line. We do and we will, because we don’t have better choices. Black women, in particular, do this in presidential race after presidential race, heading to the polls, voting in an era of disenfranchisement, only to see their issues and their candidacies erased. Only to see a disturbing number of white women vote for Trump.
We are still waiting.
In a statement to her supporters, Warren said, “Choose to fight only righteous fights, because then when things get tough—and they will—you will know that there is only one option ahead of you: Nevertheless, you must persist.” But that isn’t always pretty.
With what I hope is pride, Warren added, “In this campaign, we have been willing to fight, and when necessary, we left plenty of blood and teeth on the floor.” So I’m going to listen to “Gaslighter” a few more times and drink. There is already a trail of blood and teeth on the floor behind me.
In 2006, after the Dixie Chicks backlash, the group released the Grammy-award winning album, Taking the Long Way. The hit single from that album, “Not Ready to Make Nice,” is a direct response to the “scandal,” a refusal to apologize. “I’m not ready to make nice,” the women sing. “I’m not ready to back down.”
The final line goes: “They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting.”
Until the new record comes out in May, Taking the Long Way is their most recent album. The group had reportedly planned on a collection of covers to fulfill their seven-album contract, but after her divorce, lead singer Maines said she had more on her mind. She wasn’t done. She wasn’t ready to be quiet. Not yet.
Lyz Lenz is a writer based in Iowa. Her writing has appeared in Pacific Standard, Marie Claire, Jezebel, and the Washington Post. Her book God Land was published in August 2019. Follow her on Twitter @lyzl.