Jess McIntosh, who has worked on the Clinton campaign and with EMILY’s List, said that even in the progressive movement, she’s heard men express doubts that women can win. 

“It’s just an unwillingness to step out of the way or share power with a bigger pool. I don’t want to believe that about Sanders (or Biden), but it’s very convenient to define ‘electable’ as ‘someone who looks exactly like me,’” she said in an email.

“I’ve been running for office for over 30 years and people have told me all kinds of things and you know, you just move on,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said. “In this day and age, it’s not anything that is accurate.”

Warren presents her feminism a bit differently than Clinton did, as Traister noted on Tuesday.

“It’s not that Warren hasn’t talked about gender; it’s that until now, she has presented the feminist ambitions of her campaign in a way that hasn’t been about her or her experiences of bias, instead giving a series of big speeches that have subtly reframed the history of American organizing and policy change by foregrounding women,” Traister wrote on The Cut.

It’s been a way to talk about the power of women, she added, “without actually having to get into the muck of describing what it’s like to be that candidate or what it’s like to run against her. That’s over now; we’re in the muck.”

Hours after CNN came out with its report about the 2018 meeting between Warren and Sanders, the Massachusetts senator put out a statement saying, “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed” and asking that people move on. 

Drawing attention to sexism carries risks. Women can be ― and have been ― accused of simply seeking the limelight or trying to profit off their misfortune. 

But Lawless said her research has shown that in a Democratic primary, launching a gender-based attack against a woman could be the bigger mistake. 

“The male candidate pays a bigger price,” she said. “So part of the reason that we don’t see this kind of attack that often, I think, is because male candidates know that they might take a hit, and that hit is bigger than the doubts that voters might have about the woman against whom the attack was launched.”

“Those who withhold support from women and/or foster doubt about women’s capacity for success, rooted in dated notions of what is possible, only interfere in the project of women’s political progress,” Kelly Ditmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, wrote in a post on Tuesday. “So when it comes to the non-believers, don’t believe them.” 

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