Smeared on the Internet, Young Women Candidate Fights Back
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The tactic of making female politicians into whores is nothing new. In fact, it happened to Meg Whitman, one of the world's most accomplished business women, just last week. It's part of this whole idea that female sexuality and serious work are incompatible. But I realized that photos like the ones of me, and ones much racier, would end up coming into the public sphere when women of my generation run for office. And I knew that there could be no other answer to the question than this: Society has to accept that women of my generation have sexual lives that are going to leak into the public sphere. Sooner or later, this is a reality that has to be faced, or many young women in my generation will not be able to run for office.
On the day the photos were posted, I thought of Hillary Clinton. How she came out the next day after her private life was public and held her head high. Many advisors told me I was finished, that this was not what people wanted from their member of Congress. I decided that I had to fight. I had to come out publicly and raise my voice on this issue, even though I risked becoming some joke candidate named Krystal Ball. I also risked drawing more attention to the photos, which I still find tremendously embarrassing, but mostly because I'm shy, not because I think that what I did was wrong.
Against nearly all the advice I was given I decided to give interviews. Siobhan "Sam" Bennett, from Women's Campaign Forum, helped me to realize that the way to combat this was to take it head-on, to confront it.
Since this has happened and I have campaigned around my district, hundreds of people have come up to me to give me their love and support. I have not had one single person say an unkind word to me. Not one. Imagine, with all the stories of how much ugliness there is in the world, yet not one person has been rude to me in person in any way. I have received too many emails to count from all over my district and all over the world. From Bethel, Maine to Bethel, Washington. From veterans, government workers, seniors, young people, all expressing support for me, for my generation...saying in effect...we still love you, you have nothing to be ashamed of...run for office...win.
However, my biggest support during this whole sad episode of my life has come from supporters of Hillary Clinton. In effect, they have been telling me that what happened to me could have happened to one of their daughters. They will not see their daughters called whores when they run for office just because of some college or post-college party. They will not watch the tide of everything they fought for washed away by the public exposure of female sexuality. Once again, like the heroes that they were a generation ago when they made their careers, they are stepping up to protect young women like me and to support us and to help us to grow up. We are young women. And we are dedicated to serving this country. And we will run for office. And we will win.
Krystal Ball is a life long Virginian and small business owner running for Congress in the First District of Virginia.