From breastfeeding on camera to sharing intimate stories of sexual abuse, women running for office are turning campaign norms — and long-held gender stereotypes — on their head with a flurry of new ads that highlight once taboo topics.
With a historic number of women running for Congress or governor in 2018, many say it’s long overdue that female candidates stop conforming to a “winning” playbook written mostly by men.
President Donald Trump has played a part, too. A majority of the female candidates running this year are Democrats who are not only enraged by his presidency but motivated by the way he was seemingly able to break all the rules and still win.
“This is a guy who’s been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing dozens of women,” said Kelda Roys, a Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate who breastfeeds her infant daughter in a recent video announcing her campaign.
“The idea that women will still have to walk this very narrow tightrope to be taken seriously and [be] seen as credible, I just think women candidates and women voters, they’ve had enough,” Roys said.
For several of the women, taking an unconventional approach to their campaign playbook can help attract much-wanted media attention in a crowded field of candidates.
For others, a deeply personal story may help win over voters when competing against a much more established and well-known opponent. Democratic House candidate Sol Flores in Illinois, for example, recounted being sexually abused as a child in an ad….