Sexism is Everywhere — Even in Twitter Bios
November 16, 2017
In this political environment, we’re prone to constantly look at Twitter. Last week, I found myself doing just that — but this visit was a little different. I was looking at a tweet posted by Donald Trump Jr. in which he made an analogy comparing socialism to trick-or-treating. Twitter offers a feature that suggests other accounts to follow after you click on someone’s profile. So, because I clicked on Trump Jr.’s profile, Twitter suggested I follow Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton, among others. I clicked on Ivanka Trump’s, whose bio begins with “Wife, mother, sister, daughter. Entrepreneur & advocate for the education & empowerment of women & girls.” Arguably one of the most powerful women in Washington begins her Twitter bio with the identifiers wife and mother. Interesting.
By then, I was curious. I clicked on Clinton’s profile. Her bio reads, “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate.” The same two identifiers begin this powerful woman’s bio. Her Instagram bio is “Doting grandmother, among other things.” Arguably one of the most powerful women in the world reduces all of her accomplishments — First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and the first woman to win a major political party’s nomination for President of the United States — to the words “among other things.” And she isn’t the only one who prioritizes these identifiers on her social media platforms. I don’t need to tell you the important role social media plays in politics, but it obviously holds a lot of political clout. Nevertheless, a pattern has arisen.
Nancy Pelosi: “Democratic Leader, focused on strengthening America’s middle class and creating jobs; mother, grandmother, dark chocolate connoisseur.”
Kamala Harris: “Senator for California. Former CA Attorney General. Dedicated to fighting for justice & giving voice to the voiceless. Wife, s-mom, sister, aunt. Aspiring chef.”
Michelle Obama: “Girl from the South Side and former First Lady. Wife, mother, dog lover. Always hugger-in-chief.”
Kirsten Gillibrand: “Theo and Henry’s mom, U.S. Senator from New York, author of NYT bestseller ‘Off the Sidelines.’ Pitcher, but sometimes left fielder. Democrat.”
Granted, there are some exceptions:
Elizabeth Warren: “Official twitter account of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.”
Kellyanne Conway: “Counselor to the President”
But will we ever see the likes of Vice President Mike Pence or President Donald Trump making any of their social media biographies “husband, father or grandfather?” I’m going to go with no. So why is it that powerful women in politics feel the need to market themselves primarily as mother and wives? Is it so unfathomable to the average American voter that a woman prioritizes her career, although she has a family?
Women in politics clearly feel, or have been taught to feel, that they need to be relatable, and because they are women, that means being moms or wives first. This is not to undermine the fulfillment and pride women may have in being mothers or grandmothers, but these personal roles should hold no weight in their professional lives whatsoever. A woman’s ability to lead should not have to include her ability to be a wife or mother. We should hold her to the same standard as we would hold any powerful man. This is yet another piece of the double standard we need to keep chipping away at, because this goes beyond Twitter bios.
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