New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is accomplished, hard-working, and handles the idiocy she faces constantly with a grace that is unparalleled. She’s done so much to try and better our nation, and that is why we should care about her. Why, then, is “weight loss” the first suggestion that comes up when you type her name into Google?
In an excerpt from her upcoming memoir, Gillibrand goes into detail about the kind of sexist nonsense she faces on a regular basis.
She recounts a time when a southern congressman told her, “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat.”
An even more egregious incident occurred when another male senator approached her, actually squeezed her stomach, and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!”
Gillibrand doesn’t let it phase her, though. She explained that the statements being made were all by men in their sixties or older, who had “no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.”
The problem is, though, that none of these comments are inherently sexist—they are awful things to say to any human being, regardless of gender. What makes them sexist is the fact that because Gillibrand is female, some of her male coworkers think it acceptable to speak this way to her. The decade in which someone was born does not make an inappropriate, hurtful remark any more or less so. These people just need to be schooled on some basic human decency.
Gillibrand, in only her first term on the U.S. Senate (though she has been in office since 2009), has already lead the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the passage of the James Zadroga Act, which allotted billions of dollars to the health care treatment of Ground Zero workers and 9/11 emergency responders. As Gillibrand told People, she is now using her own experiences as motivation to tackle pressing issues like sexual assault on college campuses and in the military.
When asked if she was thinking of running for president, Gillibrand said that she will do everything she can to get Hillary Clinton elected, but that she doesn’t plan on running herself (at least not yet). “I feel like where I am, I can accomplish a lot,” she says. Even with Congress at a standstill, Gillibrand is optimistic, saying, “If I can work an issue like sexual assault on college campuses and drive a national narrative and know I’m making a difference, then whether or not we pass another bill in Congress, there’s still good things I can do.”
And it is this authenticity, this commitment to the betterment of society, that makes Kirsten Gillibrand so worthy of respect and admiration. Her memoir, Off The Sidelines, will come out September 9th. Until then, you can pre-order it on and contribute to her organization’s awesome website.
Images via www.gillibrand.senate.gov