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Sexism in the White House

Alejandra Campoverdi, a former White House aid under the Obama administration, was the first White House Deputy Director of Hispanic Media in history. Raised by her mother and grandmother – both Mexican immigrants – Campoverdi’s family struggled to make ends meet, often relying on welfare and other programs like Medicaid. Campoverdi, however, didn’t see these as obstacles to her success. Tough and very smart, she went to college and received her master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. From there, she moved to Chicago to work unpaid for the presidential campaign of a young, charismatic senator by the name of Barack Obama. After that, everything changed.

Before her political career took off, Campoverdi was photographed for Maxim, a men’s magazine that often features “sexy” photos of female models, celebrities, and athletes. Only a week into her new job as Deputy Director of Hispanic Media, the photos resurfaced and were quickly picked up by several major news outlets. Campoverdi’s credibility, intelligence, and self-worth were all put up for debate, simply because of a job she did to support herself years before.

After deciding to break her silence in March of this year, Campoverdi wrote an article for Cosmopolitan detailing her experience as a woman in the political sphere and the scrutiny that came with it.

“After President Obama was elected, I was appointed to work in the White House, initially in the chief of staff’s office and later serving as the first ever White House deputy director of Hispanic media… Then the photos hit… I was now stamped as the “White House Maxim Model.” I had been reduced to a stereotype,” she stated.

The unfair treatment Campoverdi dealt with is, unfortunately, the norm for women in politics and the public eye. Men are allowed to be whomever they want. They are expected to be leaders, models of society, and the multifaceted embodiment of the American Dream, yet the bar is set incomprehensibly low. For women, however, there are much higher expectations, and any mistake is unforgivable. “We get typecast as the Sexy One, the Brainy One, the Girl Next Door,” Campoverdi poignantly said. Nobody is perfect, and these categories don’t really exist for anyone, yet they are still forced upon women everywhere.

Campoverdi continued, “Now, eight years later, as I run for Congress, I understand a lot more about the systemic sexism in politics than the young woman who beat herself up and took all the shaming so personally. She added, “Yet when I recently found myself forced to answer questions about Maxim by a reputable newspaper in my official announcement for Congress, I knew I had to speak out about this double standard. Enough already.”

Her hope is that other girls do not have to endure the same type of sexist shaming that she did; however, Campoverdi knows that just doesn’t reflect our current reality. “From this generation forward, every woman will have grown up in the digital age where, unless she sat in a turtleneck at home for all her teens, she will have pictures readily available online that can be used to shame her. And if these women decide to sit this one out because of that, we will miss out on talented, transformational women leaders in every public-facing field, especially politics. This will be a loss for our country and our future.”

Campoverdi’s power and success certainly proves her to be the type of leader young women can look up to in the future.

Featured Image by Tyler on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Janice Henshaw

    October 16, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I commend this woman for her speaking out about sexism anywhere. It’s very unfair
    and won’t stop unless it’s called out by women who’ve experienced this. Men must
    also join in, state their objections to this behavior which happens much too often.
    Thanks to NYMM we can ne informed about these unfortunate incidents.
    Very important story, well written.
    Thank you,
    J.H.

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