By Jordan Westendorf on January 22, 2020
As a debater in high school, I was told to "cool it" or to "calm down" because I was "too aggressive" at least once a tournament. It took me way too long to decipher the coded language saying that I wasn't allowed to raise my voice or make impassioned arguments because I was a woman in a male-dominated sport. No matter what I did to try to counteract it--causing me to question my likeability and personality--I would be docked points. So, in my junior year, I decided to lean into it. I became the very best pant-suit-and-stiletto-wearing-cheerleader-debater that my school had seen. It was unapologetically me.
At the same time, Hillary Clinton had been dubbed a "Nasty Woman" by then-presidential candidate-Trump in the heat of 2016. Through debate, I had been engaged in politics but hadn't realized the degree of sexism in America until watching the returns on that election night.
Those returns led me to intern for challenger congressional candidate Katie Porter (CA-45) in 2018 whose focus on campaign finance and electoral reform gave me a glimpse into the institutional issues with our electoral system that have the potential to vastly skew results, most often against or to the ultimate detriment of minority and female candidates. Her race also introduced me to the practical application of sexism in voting, as her position as a single mother and survivor of domestic abuse was weaponized against her in a whisper campaign, resulting in her loss of the California Democratic Party endorsement in the crowded primary by a single delegate. It made me angry and frustrated and motivated towards change.
I decided to study Government and History when I entered Georgetown University to pursue a career in working to reform issues like campaign finance, lack of minority representation (or confined minority representation), gerrymandering, and, of course, gender inequality that have historically produced halls of power controlled by a single very specific demographic. I want to make sure that not only would my values and beliefs be represented in Congress, but that I could be part of a system that empowered "unbecoming" women to change the world. I now am also the Communications Director for Georgetown College Democrats, helping communicate our message to other students to grow our campus presence and engagement for fall 2020.
I am so excited to be working for RepresentWomen as a Communications Intern because I get to help raise awareness of the incredible research detailing why these inequalities have been perpetuated well into the 21st century and the proposals that can reform them. I hope to gain more knowledge and experience with the research about female representation and learn strategies for communicating this information to reach wider audiences and grow engagement across all media platforms.