On the ‘Unlikability’ of Female Candidates



There was a debate last week over the suggestion that Elizabeth Warren may face the same “likability” issues as Hillary Clinton. I would argue that the idea of “likability” for a female candidate is problematic, as it fails to address the very real social context in which female authority figures are seen as less likable than their male peers. This piece on NBC does a pretty good job of explaining the issue.

Regarding Warren, I’d suggest that the fair question to ask is not “Is she likable?” but rather, “Can America overcome its sexism and anti-intellectualism enough to vote for her?” I wish I could confidently say yes, but I’m not so sure, despite the success of female candidates in the midterms. The authoritarian wave sweeping the world is very much a reassertion of traditional ideas about masculinity. I say all of this as a big fan of Elizabeth Warren, who has always felt like an alter ego if I’d gone to law school. I even dressed up as her for Halloween once.



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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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