Senator Claire McCaskill Dishes On Sexism in Politics
Remember 2012? It was only three years ago the country was knee-deep in election season as President Obama sought a second term, Taylor Swift was rounding out her Kennedy phase, and the media got a crash course on "legitimate rape" from then-Representative Todd Akin (R-Mo.).
In case you've permanently blocked out Akin's (very inaccurate) presumptions about rape — he declared that a woman "rarely" gets pregnant from "legitimate rape" because he claimed the body has a way of "shutting it down" — hopefully you haven't forgotten about the woman who beat him in the election: Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. She's held the seat since 2006, and she's been put through the wringer more than once thanks to the blatant misogyny of her coworkers. Fifteen years ago a GOP spokesman compared her to a "cheap hooker," and when she was first starting out, she was asked by the Missouri House Speaker if she brought knee pads to help pass one of her bills.
She details all of these anecdotes and tons more in her new memoir, "Plenty Ladylike." If you're not convinced this woman is a boss, know this: She paid her way through law school working as a waitress, she was homecoming queen, and she was the first woman elected to represent Missouri in the Senate.
In a great interview over at The Cut, McCaskill reveals that her second Senate campaign used reverse psychology to dissuade voters from showing up for Akin. Here are some of her best remarks.
How to out-strategize your opponents
"The reason I wrote about all the stuff behind the scenes with Akin is I wanted women to see the strategy that they should embrace in order to achieve their goals," McCaskill said in the interview. "I’m not saying do anything unethical or illegal, but if you can figure out a way to really out-strategize in a situation — that's what that was all about. It was about getting the opponent I needed to have to win. I'm comfortable saying this now: It was a lot of fun. It really was fun."
How she dealt with sexism and misogyny in political culture
"I internalized it [sexism] and just was determined to show that person that I was not to be marginalized, you know? I was going to blow past them in terms of my ability to do the task in front of me. It really motivated me more than anything else," she said during the interview. "I’m not ashamed of it, but I’m not proud of it. For young women today, I don't want to send a signal to them that they should just take it and work around it."
The senator also discusses her love for Amy Schumer and former obsession with "Game of Thrones" during the interview, which is definitely worth checking out. Her memoir "Plenty Ladylike" is in bookstores now.
Get to know a little more about Senator Claire McCaskill in her MAKERS Minute video above.
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