Existing 'Is Enough to Piss People Off': Women Talk About Harassment on the Campaign Trail


While we celebrate that a record number of women are running for office, it’s worth considering the shit they put up with just to be heard. A group of current and former candidates talked to the New York Times about the harassment they’ve dealt with while campaigning. Their stories are depressing and sometimes frightening, the harassment predictable.

From Mya Whitaker, a Democrat running for City Council in Oakland, California:

“Being a black woman and existing, in some cases, is enough to piss people off.”

And Kim Weaver, an Iowa Democrat who dropped out of a race against white supremacist Rep. Steve King in 2017 in part because of the threats against her and her family:

Someone crept onto her property overnight and put up a “for sale” sign. The neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer published an article (no longer available) titled, as Ms. Weaver recalled it, “Meet the Whore Who’s Running Against Steve King,” increasing what was already an onslaught of threats. An acquaintance in the German government even called to warn her about a threatening conversation on an extremist message board, and to ask if she had personal security.
“I’m normally a pretty brave person, but when you feel like you’re in a fishbowl and you don’t know who it is that’s throwing rocks at you, it’s disconcerting,” Ms. Weaver, 53, said. “You don’t know if it’s somebody sitting in his mother’s basement in Florida or if it’s a gun-happy white supremacist who hates you who lives a block away.”

And Brianna Wu, the video game developer who was one of the main targets of Gamergate, who is running for Congress in Massachusetts’s 8th Congressional District. She says she’s so used to the harassment that she’s become numb to it:

“I often look at it and I’m like: ‘I know I should be feeling something right now. I know I should be feeling scared or angry or stressed.’ And it’s at a point where I can’t feel anything anymore,” Ms. Wu said. “It’s almost like fear is a muscle that is so overtaxed, it can just do nothing else in my body.”

That numbness might be familiar to you, too.

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