OPINION: The self-sacrifice of the Warren campaign and the misogyny it fought in its wake


Kamrin Baker 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren put up a tough fight. Graphic by Mars Nevada/the Gateway

On March 5, when Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) suspended her campaign for president, searches for the word ‘misogyny’ spiked 2,400% on the Merriam-Webster dictionary website. The dictionary definition for this word—so relevant, subtle and searing—is “a hatred of women.”

While there were definitely some clear instances of gender-motivated vitriol throughout Warren’s run (snake emoji replies to her social media posts, media erasure from both liberal and conservative outlets and nonsense notions of electability—she’d have been electable if we voted for her), her campaign was also tinged with gender discrimination from the beginning.

I was a Warren supporter from “nevertheless, she persisted,” and it took a lot of restraint for me to not publish a “please vote for this woman!” column in the Gateway. She is a candidate I saw myself in: an emotional overachiever with a plan for everything, someone who has been overlooked and underpaid, someone who is both angry and kind. It was not my place as editor-in-chief to endorse a candidate on behalf of the entire student body or my entire editorial staff, but now that the campaign is over, I’m left to grieve and explore all the social implications that brought us to the end.

While her campaign was one of kindness, courage and inclusion, Warren was met with constant misogyny. The internet nicknamed her “Hermione” (as if that is an insult); well-intentioned voters often said they were worried she couldn’t secure the nomination to beat Trump (a subtle nod saying “I don’t know if a woman is up to task”); she was seen as too progressive and simultaneously not progressive enough; she was shamed for having made a decent fortune as a highly esteemed law professor; and a rumor even circulated (albeit, very shortly) that she was involved in a BDSM relationship with a former Marine.

Morgann Freeman, a former candidate for Nebraska’s second congressional district, said the loss feels personal, after seeing such a diverse playing field of Democratic candidates dwindle to “two old white men.”

“Warren and her team actually worked to build comprehensive plans, not just statements, that actively included people from the populations that would be most affected by those policies,” Freeman said. “More than any other candidate that I’ve seen on the national stage, I felt like she was authentic, and that she deeply cared about America as a whole, not just partisan politics. The unfairness of it is something that hits home for many women. To know that we aren’t insulated from it, even on that scale, is really depressing. All we want is a fair shot.”

Warren seemingly got her shot, as did many other talented women candidates, but did they really? How often has Bernie Sanders been denounced for his disheveled aesthetic and raised voice? Would we have embraced a 38-year-old lesbian mayor from the Midwest like we did Pete Buttigieg? In fighting the good fight, Warren solidified her authenticity as a champion debater and masterfully capable candidate, which, as wonderful and tenacious as it is, was ultimately her downfall.

In her farewell remarks following the suspension of the campaign, Warren was filled with pride, citing her bold takedown of the Bloomberg campaign, development of millions of grassroots donors and a commitment to fighting injustice.

“What we have done – and the ideas we have launched into the world, the way we have fought this fight, the relationships we have built – will carry through, carry through for the rest of this election, and the one after that, and the one after that,” Warren wrote to her supporters. “We have shown that a woman can stand up, hold her ground, and stay true to herself — no matter what.”

While it is valid to mourn the loss of another four years without a woman in executive office, and we’ll almost certainly see a woman in the Vice President spot on the nominee’s bid (a consolation prize, if you ask me), Denise Blaya Powell, co-founder of Women Who Run Nebraska said it’s vital to keep up the momentum.

“I try to remember that big, transformational change doesn’t happen overnight,” Powell said. “If you feel like they’re not letting us climb the ladder fast enough, we have to build our own ladder. You can change the conversation locally when you have women in every office—boards and legislatures at the state level. It trickles up.”

So, watch: As the ceaseless circus of old, straight, cisgender white men rages on—so do we.