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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Tadross

Stop Voting for People Accused of Sexual Assault

As we come closer to the 2020 presidential election, we are left with two men standing. Two men. Two people who only represent 50% of our population, the same half that has represented the major parties in 57 of the 58 general elections in U.S. history. But why have only men made it this far when women have been running for President since 1872? Why are we still looking at white male candidates when there were a record five women running in the Democratic primary in 2020?

Recognizing and Eliminating Our Gender Bias

Anchors on FOX News claimed that the gender bias narrative is false, and that Elizabeth Warren lost because she is a liar. So was every single woman who ran for President from 1872 to present more dishonest than every man? Because I doubt it. That sounds more like subconscious bias in favor of men. In 1872 and a while after that, most people had a conscious objection to a woman being president. Whereas today, the problem is mainly that people subconsciously object to women being president. Psychology research from Forbes found that women are victim to both descriptive and prescriptive bias. Descriptive bias is when women are expected to be warm, caring, and submissive, and voters believe someone more aggressive would be a better fit for the job. Prescriptive bias is when women break these standards and are labelled as "abrupt" or "critical." If you don't believe me, listen to a speech from your male politician of choice and then imagine a female politician speaking in the same tone. Her voice may sound "screechy," "angry," or "too weak" for the world stage. Some people may claim that they already know this, but the problem is that each person believes he or she is not a part of the problem. A 2020 study from USA Today found that 71% of people report being comfortable with a female president, but just 33% say that their neighbors would be. Thus, as conservatives on FOX News are denying the bias, liberals are claiming they are the only ones without the bias. This is how the Democratic Party ended up impeaching Trump but putting up a candidate who was also involved in foreign scandals and accused of sexual assault. To begin overcoming this bias we need to recognize that we all have it and why we all have it. According to a study from Amsterdam University in 2013, the reason people prefer taller, more aggressive male leaders is rooted in evolutionary psychology. In the past, humans were safest under a physically imposing, male leader. This was the type of leader who would hunt buffalo and engage in hand-on-hand combat. Most leaders today are no longer in need of these skills, but we are still seeking them in a President. This truth reveals that this bias is not helpful in selecting a leader, in fact, it is actively harmful. We are ignoring candidates with important traits such as empathetic leadership, integrity, and past experience, and instead using our primitive biases as a compass. All this Talk of Equality, But it's Still Okay to Elect Someone Accused of Sexual Assault? America has selected President Trump and Joe Biden as our potential candidates. Each has been accused of sexual assault multiple times. This concerns me for two reasons. First, even after the #metoo movement has done so much good for women, the majority of people still think it is okay for men in power to disrespect women, which opens the door for more men to think their actions don't have consequences. The objection to this is that we should elect people because of their policies, not who they are as a person. But second, we are already not electing people based on their policies because we are so biased toward male candidates. If we were really objective voters, we would not have wanted two white male candidates so badly that we ignore all accusations against them. If we were objective voters, we probably would have had a female president by now. We are blocking out many potentially effective candidates because we are afraid to recognize our own biases. We all have them, regardless of our gender, political party, or other identities. As we enter the 2020 election, I want to start a new hashtag to recognize the biases we all hold: #stopvotingforpeopleaccusedofsexualassault. It may seem long, but that is the point. Unlike other hashtags, this one prescribes a specific action we can take to improve society. To elect the best candidates who do not normalize assault, we need to make sure it is no longer okay for men in power to disrespect women. If you agree, use this hashtag on your Instagram story, Twitter, or Facebook. This is not about attacking any specific group, but overcoming our own demons so we can move in the right direction as a society.

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