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How Women Candidates Navigate Sexism and Racism in Their Campaigns

Twenty-one-year-old Morgan Zegers, candidate for the 113th New York State Assembly District,​ says women who've previously run for office tell her not to wear pink and to use big words to sound smart.

by Broadly Staff
Oct 30 2018, 5:49pm


As women candidates across the country gear up for next month's election, they face challenges that their male opponents do not. In the second episode of their She's Running series, VICE News meets with two Republican and two Democrat candidates—Pearl Kim, Morgan Zeger, Anna Eskamani, and Deidre DeJear—about the challenges they uniquely face as women running for office and, for all but Zeger, how those challenges are heightened as women of color.

"Women have to face double standards in how we are perceived in these spaces, especially in political spaces," says Florida House of Representatives candidate Anna Eskamani. Pearl Kim, who's running for the fifth congressional district in Pennsylvania, discusses the difficulty in coming off "serious but still approachable" and sharing her personal life—including her status as a sexual assault and cancer survivor—as a naturally private person. As a young woman running, 21-year-old Morgan Zegers, candidate for the 113th New York State Assembly District, says she's had women who've previously run for office call to warn her not to wear pink and to use big words to sound smart.

Iowa Secretary of State candidate Deidre DeJear says she deals with racism and sexism while campaigning by focusing on the issues affecting those in her state. DeJear still plans to knock on the door of her neighbor who has a Confederate flag up in their garage. "It's bigger than either one of us when I'm knocking on that person's door," she explains. "Whether you're going to vote for me or not, I want to make sure you're going to participate in the election."