“If you’re tough enough to run New York City, you’re too tough to be considered acceptably feminine.”
— Gloria Steinem, who endorsed Christine Quinn for NYC mayor
It's too bad about Christine Quinn. She lost the Democratic primary for NYC mayor big time even though she started out well ahead of the pack. It happened because she’s a woman. It happened because we have vastly different standards for women than we do for men, even in New York City.
Quinn was an indefatigable worker who always showed up. Every community meeting I went to she went to. She knew her stuff. She made a real effort. She was tough, yes, but I aspire to that, as all women should. And she had a good heart. For several years she lived in my building and we occasionally shared an elevator. Her driver/body guard accompanied her to her second floor apartment. She was genuinely polite to him and always congenial when speaking with me.
I found Quinn to be on the right side of almost everything but she got credited with Bloomberg’s third term as if she, somehow, was solely responsible. She was, I understand, blamed for the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital and the fact that she’s fat, ugly, brash with a bad voice who wears cheap clothes. Or so people said at the exit polls and when questioned by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Kate Taylor. Does it matter that Christine Quinn is not fat and she looks perfectly well groomed in her tailored suits?
“Nice lady, but if I have to listen to that voice for four years, I’ll die,” said John A. Catsimatidis, the extremely wealthy man who ran for mayor in the Republican primary. Only his gender and his privilege allowed him to get away with such idiotic statements. How can this idiot man be rich? What does it take to be rich, I wonder? Certainly not intelligence, decency or character. He’s no silver-throated crooner himself but, then again, I’ve heard obese men call thin women fat more than once. We’ve got a hell of a long way to go and right now, in the “greatest city on earth” we’ve just proved it. Remember what happened to Hillary? Well, brace yourself. It’s about to happen again.
Quinn understood about scare expensive housing and unscrupulous landlords and the city’s vastly imbalanced haves and have-nots. She knew the system and worked it. She knew better than to make promises she couldn’t keep. Worked out to stay fit. I know because I saw her postings for a workout partner on our apartment website bulletin board.
No. She didn’t listen to the women who attempted to caution her about her outward behavior, which can be perceived as tough and aggressive. “I don’t get up in the morning thinking about how I’ll approach this as a woman or a lesbian; I think about the issues,” she is quoted as saying in the NY Times.
She is made vulnerable by her ethics, her task-oriented drive, ultimately her naïve belief that her hard work and long years of commitment to the working people of NYC will carry her to the front of the finish line. It just doesn’t work that way.
I’m sorry, New York City, for your loss, and I’m sorry Christine Quinn. I hope there’s a next time and I hope you win.