Likeability is dogwhistle for sexism

Indeed.

The fact is that Elizabeth Warren is likable. She speaks frankly and in moral terms, avoiding the cajoling sliminess of politicians such as the reptilian Texas senator Ted Cruz, or her probable Democratic primary opponent, New Jersey senator Cory Booker. She is better at avoiding the air of professorial condescension that was sometimes indulged by her fellow former legal scholars Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. At times, she even achieves the unaffected folksiness that endears voters to politicians such as Beto O’Rourke or Ronald Reagan. She has an air of kindly authority that might remind you of your old school teacher – probably because she used to be one.

But none of this is what we mean when we ask whether or not Elizabeth Warren is “likable”, just as it was not what was meant when that tiresome question was asked about Clinton in the 2016 election cycle. Instead, the question of “likability” as it is applied to women candidates has become a kind of cipher through which pundits, strategists and ordinary Americans discuss our collective discomfort with women in power.

Although I can’t believe I’ve already started up the Campaign 2020 category >.<


The issue with Elizabeth Warren isn’t likability. It’s sexism | Moira Donegan

The issue with Elizabeth Warren isn’t likability. It’s sexism | Moira Donegan

The claim that a woman candidate is not ‘likable’ is code for saying she defies our shared cultural understanding that power and authority are implicitly male, says writer Moira Donegan

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