Hillary Clinton recently handed women considering entering the political arena a piece of advice, “Take criticism seriously but not personally.” She was talking about the inverse correlation when it comes to likability between successful men and successful women.
Her advice comes at a time when, just yesterday, I was speaking with an extremely well-qualified former 2016 female candidate who is considering making another run for public office in 2018. During the 2016 cycle, my candidate received almost more endorsements than any almost any other candidate running for office in a particular state. She’s deeply entrenched in community events, advocating on behalf of working families, serves on multiple local boards, and is a district native and lifelong district resident.
Yet, when on the campaign trail, women didn’t listen to her, they looked at her and called her a prom queen, told her they wouldn’t vote for her because they thought she was immature, constantly and ruthlessly criticized her attire, and even told her she just didn’t look the part and needed to grow up and stop wearing sleeveless sleeve dresses. They didn’t focus on the policy changes she wanted to enact to improve their lives and bring more funding back to the district.
Herein lies the problem with Hillary’s advice: taking criticism seriously but not personally is directed toward the candidate, not the person giving the insults. The real conversation we need to be having is how to shift the mindset of these “political lady haters” so they’ll stop focusing on whether or not a candidate is wearing too much eye shadow and focus on what that candidate is saying and how they want to improve voters’ lives.
How is it that we can bond together and hold the world's biggest protest, the Women's March, yet we can't bond together to get more women elected? This “Mean Girls” attitude has got to go, and it’s going to take awhile to make it happen, but ladies, we must start listening and stop “lady hating.”