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The Beto backlash

RULING THE WEEK

THE BETO BACKLASH — Beto O’Rourke burst on the 2020 scene this week (yes, he’s running) with a desert-scape Vanity Fair cover that’s got everyone talking.

The cover photo — of Beto striking a hands-in-the-back-pocket pose that echoes Ronald Reagan on the cover of Time — and the story, complete with testimonials from his ex-girlfriends (one describe his “mystique”), were immediately criticized as fawning, presenting the El Paso ex-congressman as the next in a long line of white males entitled to the presidency. Beto declares in the article, “I’m just born to be in it.”

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So far there have been a few main lines of criticism.

1. It would be hard for a woman to get away with saying this. Beto is loud and proud about his ambition to be president, despite having had mixed success as a politician. But studies have shown that women are routinely punished if they come across as power-seeking, while men are not. Not only that, as Amanda Terkel points out in the Huffington Post, citing research from Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox, parents are far more likely to encourage their sons to run for office than their daughters.

— Tweet for thought:

2. The media is giving him special treatment. Why, many wonder, is Beto plastered across cable news stations and posing on the cover of Vanity Fair, rather than more experienced female 2020 contenders, like Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren? On CNN, Kirsten Powers said, “I feel that he’s getting kind of this special treatment that’s not proportionate to what he’s done. … I think there’s still an issue in this country where people just get very, very excited about white men. … Or I shouldn’t even say white men — men.”

Others pointed out the different treatment Vanity Fair has given O’Rourke and Warren. (Beto did tell VF’s Joe Hagan the country has a problem with diversity in leadership.)

— Read Natasha Korecki’s latest, out this morning: “‘Not one woman got that kind of coverage’: Beto backlash begins” POLITICO

It’s only the latest criticism along those lines leveled against Beto this year, starting with Nia-Malika Henderson’s boffo CNN article about his quixotic cross-country exploratory tour — “Beto’s excellent adventure drips with white male privilege.”

Meanwhile, the other candidates are catching on. Harris aimed a subtle dig at Beto on MSNBC Thursday when she said voters were looking for candidates with a “proven record of producing” results. And the internet sure is having fun with the descriptions of Beto as a tortured college student, toting a copy of The Sun Also Rises in his back pocket.

Decide for yourself: Read the Beto profile here

Happy Friday from New York City, where the National Magazine Awards took place last night. (Politico’s Nahal Toosi was nominated for a fabulous story she wrote on whether the Obama administration could have prevented the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar.) As always, send feedback to womenrule@politico.com. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING — The Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee equal protection under the law regardless of sex, was first introduced in Congress in 1923 and passed in 1972. Today, 37 states have passed the measure, making it just one state away from ratification. This week, Democrats in the Arizona legislature pushed to make Arizona the next state to pass the ERA; Republicans blocked voting on the amendment. AZ Central

It’s complicated: Even if 38 states pass the amendment, the original ratification deadline set by Congress has passed. Some argue Congress could extend the deadline; others wonder whether the ERA is still necessary at all. Read more about the potential future of the ERA here

NEW WOMEN RULE PODCAST Anna sat down with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Listen and subscribe

— Highlights … On her decision to move to Washington: “As a woman, I think that there was a lot of discussion about was this the right thing to do, why would you do that, why would you leave your family, why would you leave your kids? There was one person who sort of said to me, you know, this wouldn’t even be a discussion if you were a man, but we’re discussing this because you’re a woman.”

— On balancing work and family: “I think the idea and the notion that you can do everything all at once to the fullest is not practical for a lot of people. … I also was raised with very traditional notions and expectations of women and of being a mother. Literally I think until maybe last year I always cooked a home-cooked dinner every night. My first year in office, I would spend my Sundays cooking dinner for them so that they could have a home-cooked meal. Kind of given up on that.”

#METOO LATEST — “Former Gillibrand aide resigned in protest over handling of sex harassment claims,” by Alex Thompson and Daniel Strauss: “Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), one of the most outspoken advocates of the #MeToo movement who has made fighting sexual misconduct a centerpiece of her presidential campaign, spent last summer pressing legislators to update Congress’ ‘broken’ system of handling sexual harassment.

“At the same time, a mid-20s female aide to Gillibrand resigned in protest over the handling of her sexual harassment complaint by Gillibrand‘s office, and criticized the senator for failing to abide by her own public standards.” POLITICO

— After the story broke on Monday, Gillibrand defended her office’s original investigation into the complaint. She did not explain why, then, the office decided to reopen the investigation and fire the accused male aide last week, after the office became aware of the POLITICO investigation. POLITICO

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS — On Tuesday, Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a bill that would allow new parents to take up to three months of paid leave in exchange for deferring Social Security payments in retirement, for a period twice as long as the parental leave. The bill has come under fire from Democrats. The Hill

CONGRESS REJECTS MANELS — Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is asking his male House colleagues to sign the GenderAvenger pledge, which would commit them to decline to participate in all-male panel discussions (outside Congress). Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) have already signed.

In this handout photo provided by UK Parliament, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, first row centre, laughs during the Brexit debate in the House of Commons, London, Thursday March 14, 2019. Britain's Parliament has voted to seek a delay of the country's departure from the European Union, a move that will likely avert a chaotic withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: As the March 29 Brexit deadline approaches, embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May will seek to push through the House of Commons her plan for secession from the EU next week, after lawmakers rejected it for a second time by historic margins this week. In this photo, she laughs during a debate in Parliament on Thursday. | UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via AP

WHAT RULERS ARE READING

TROLL ALERT — “When ‘Captain Marvel’ Became a Target, the Rules Changed”: After online haters began attacking ‘Captain Marvel’ and its star Brie Larson, “Rotten Tomatoes, an influential site where a bad audience score can damage a film’s prospects, made major changes to its rules. Most critically, it eliminated prerelease audience reviews. It also stopped displaying the percentage of moviegoers who say they ‘want to see’ a film in favor of using the raw number of people. And it removed the ‘not interested’ button. …

“‘Captain Marvel’ is among the few superhero films to star a woman, but a bigger trigger factor for the film’s haters appeared to be Ms. Larson’s outspokenness about the lack of diversity in movies and news media coverage of films.” (h/t Anna) NYT

MYTHBUSTING — “Actually, Women Do Ask for Money. They Just Don’t Get It.”: “When it comes to pay raises, the received wisdom is that women don’t ask. Or rather, that we don’t ask for them as often as men do. … The Do Women Ask? study … found that when comparing men and women who do similar jobs (and jobs where there are genuine opportunities for salary negotiation), women actually ask for raises at the same rates as men. … Now for the bad news: Both McKinsey’s research and the Do Women Ask? study found that while men and women ask for pay raises at broadly similar rates, women are more likely to be refused or suffer blowback for daring to broach the topic.” The Cut

AROUND THE WORLD — “A female panel of judges in Italy decided a woman was too ‘masculine’ to be raped” WaPo

— “India election 2019: The mystery of 21 million ‘missing’ women voters” BBC

CURIO — “Read the ‘testicular bill of rights,’ one lawmaker’s answer to antiabortion legislation”: “It started, as all things do, with a tweet. ‘Ggggooooodddd morning!’ state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, a Georgia Democrat, wrote Monday, introducing what she is calling her ‘testicular bill of rights’ legislative package. ‘You want some regulation of bodies and choice? Done!’” WaPo

NEWS YOU CAN USE — “Why Most Performance Evaluations Are Biased, and How to Fix Them” HBR

NEWS YOU MIGHT NEVER USE — “A Rare Bird Indeed: A Cardinal That’s Half Male, Half Female”: “A bird hopping outside the window lately is the strangest that Shirley and Jeffrey Caldwell have ever seen. Its left side is the taupe shade of female cardinals; its right, the signature scarlet of males. Researchers believe that the cardinal frequenting the Caldwells’ bird feeder in Erie, Pa., is a rare bilateral gynandromorph, half male and half female. Not much is known about the unusual phenomenon, but this sexual split has been reported among birds, reptiles, butterflies and crustaceans. …

“Dr. Hooper said he would love to be able to study the bird in-depth, to learn more about its genetics and also to understand how its brain functions: In gynandromorphs, half of the brain, too, is female, and half male. Male songbirds have many more neural connections in their brains to allow them to sing complex tunes, and he wonders how a half-and-half brain would affect this cardinal’s ability to learn, evaluate and produce song, as well as its desire to do so.” NYT

LONGREAD — “Military Doctors Told Them It Was Just ‘Female Problems.’ Weeks Later, They Were In The Hospital.”: “They didn’t want to complain — being a woman in the US military, the last thing you want to be seen as is weak — but the sharp abdominal pain was becoming debilitating. Military doctors dismissed it as “female problems,” period cramps. It was “normal,” they were told. It was said or implied that they were overreacting. They were given painkillers and birth control, and told to report back to duty.

“Those orders landed six of the more than a dozen female service members interviewed by BuzzFeed News in the hospital, fighting for their lives. One was in the ER a few weeks later with a “baseball-sized cyst,” bleeding internally. Another underwent an experimental, highly invasive, and botched surgery by a military doctor. Several had hysterectomies. All now live with infertility; chronic, debilitating pain; and sky-high medical bills. It wasn’t period cramps.” Buzzfeed

WOMEN RULERS

ON TUESDAY I went to see a panel on equal pay co-hosted by Tamara Mellon, co-founder of the footwear brands Jimmy Choo and Tamara Mellon, and Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest, a digital investing platform designed for women. The panel was moderated by tech entrepreneur Kathryn Finney and featured actress Storm Reid, journalist Noor Tagouri and Lindsay Peoples Wagner, editor in chief of Teen Vogue.

— Highlights … Mellon on what it’s like to try to get funding from the male-dominated VC world: “Even within this round, we’ve had, ‘I’ll bring my wife to to the meeting.’ Or, ‘Let me go home and ask my wife if she likes your shoes.’ There just aren’t enough women at the table; there aren’t enough people who understand our product.”

— Krawcheck on why women need sponsors: “Mentors are people who will answer your questions. Sponsors are people who will fight for you. Women are over-mentored. … Carla Harris from Morgan Stanley has said, ‘Every important decision about your career is made when you’re not in the room.’ Sally Krawcheck will add: ‘If you don’t know who’s in that room fighting for you, there’s nobody in that room fighting for you.’”

IF YOU COULD TELL MEN ONE THING … Last week we asked readers to respond to the prompt: If you could tell the men you work with one thing, what would it be?

— Jessica Nardilli says: “I don’t need you to succeed.”

— Cristina Flores says: “You are used to listening to your own voice and as much as it is important to step up and speak, it is also just as important to step back and allow there to be silence if need be so that others can speak.”

TRANSITIONS — Terri McCullough will be Nancy Pelosi’s new chief of staff, becoming the first woman in the modern era to serve as chief of staff to the speaker in a paid, full-time capacity. Kate Gallego was elected the second ever female mayor of Phoenix. Sen. Kamala Harris has tapped Anne Bailey, previously national field director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, to be South Carolina organizing director for her 2020 campaign. (h/t Playbook)

WISDOM OF THE WEEK Vanessa Rodriguez, vice president of marketing, Columbia, The Howard Hughes Corporation: “Apply your passions to projects you are working on, speak your mind about its importance and how it supports your business goals. Make work interesting and impactful!

“This approach allowed me to infuse my passion for arts and culture into neighborhood developments through projects such as Downtown Columbia’s Books in Bloom festival, OPUS Merriweather and Artist in Residence. These programs not only enrich my community but are also meaningful to me personally!” Learn more

IMPACT PARTNER CONTENT — “I approached my Fellowship on the Hill with the understanding that I just wouldn’t see many people who looked like me. Even with my expectations, it was still disheartening to see how few women and people of color there were. It was in these moments, though, that I was most grateful for Running Start.

“I recently had my own newly-elected Congresswoman, Representative Elissa Slotkin, cheer me on and campaign for me as I competed to serve as Running Start’s ambassador. That night, I realized that we have the ability to shape what the future of our politics looks like. And that’s because organizations like Running Start are working hard to change the face of power.” Ewurama Appiagyei-Dankah, Running Start 2019 Ambassador. Read her story

Women Rule is produced by POLITICO in partnership with our founding partners, Google and the Tory Burch Foundation. To learn more visit Women Rule and #RuleWithUs on social.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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