The Daily Beast

The Senate Tells Women to Smile More and Talk Less

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

March is Women’s History Month and the 2021 theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.” And yet, as a country, we still tell women that the best way to get ahead is to keep their mouths shut.

A few weeks ago, Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget after the Senate prepared to reject her candidacy. Her qualifications were not in question, nor her past experience. Instead, senators focused on Tanden’s use of social media and her sometimes caustic tweets. There is zero chance that a man would be rejected under the same circumstances. Similarly unfair expectations have been applied to other female candidates put forth by President Joe Biden.

Not long after Tanden’s contentious hearing, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland fielded questions far more intense than those posed to her predecessors. Haaland was narrowly confirmed, but other female candidates, especially women of color, face uphill battles for confirmation, including Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, Biden’s choices for associate attorney general and the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. Republicans have put forth dubious objections to both candidates. They’ve argued that Gupta is anti-cop, despite her endorsement from police unions, and that Clarke is anti-Semitic, despite her endorsement from the Anti-Defamation League. They’ve raised no objections about their expertise.

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