To be a teenage girl in politics

Jocelyn Arroyo-Ariza, News Editor

I got tired of wearing pink every Monday morning in the last days of 2020. My first class was American government, so I used to say to myself that I was serving “Legally Blonde” as I made sure to wake up with enough time to put on a nice outfit before going on Zoom.  


Surprisingly, I was the only girl speaking in class, which surprises me when I can go the entire day without speaking. It seems even more odd in retrospect, now that I am in my higher political science courses, to see class discussions not being dominated by one gender.  


I would sit there planning the exact moment for an opportunity to arise so I could condense what I had been feeling for the past 40 minutes in two sentences. It was difficult to interrupt something that was not mine. Though I was reassured by my professor that my comments were insightful, I felt like more of an afterthought in our discussions. Granted it was my freshmen year, and I was already nervous in unfamiliar territory. 


It was the 2020 election, and I was in the safety of my bedroom with pictures of Harry Styles and Tom Holland in the background. Even through the laptop screen I could feel the tension. I have blocked out the memories of finding out what states were flipped and the exact process in which I mailed my absentee ballot.  


I have grown accustomed to being excluded and criticized in almost everything I am passionate about. Things that I love are commonly enjoyed by men, whether it be my music taste or those leather coats you find in a thrift store. I have grown accustomed to constant criticism of tainting something beloved with my femininity. I have been accused of thinking I know too much with constant questions, like what every girl dreads hearing when stepping out of the house wearing a Nirvana shirt – can you name three songs that are not “Smells Like Teenage Spirt?” While usually I roll my eyes, mentally I have had enough. 


One of my earliest memories in my field was when I was 14 and was followed on Twitter by a Berine Sanders campaign account that I believe was run by college students. I suppose that they were aware that I was young by the content that I was posting, but I guess they were intrigued by the opportunity to appeal to the youth – those who were too young to vote but were old enough to convince someone to do so. I was very excited at the time to be recognized by one of the many accounts that took part of that historic grassroot movement.  

The happiness was only temporary as I was soon left to defend myself from the wrath of older men on the internet. For a short period of time in almost every tweet about the Democratic Primary there would be a comment claiming that I was just a stupid girl with no place in politics. I knew if I was a young teenage boy, I would have been treated entirely differently. I would probably have been given sympathy, or better yet they would have at least read what I wrote. Just in the same way that I would never put in my Instagram bio “Future Lawyer” unlike my close male friend unless I wanted someone to tell me that I am too ambitious.  


However, flashbacks to those days serve as motivation. Why should I be ashamed of what I represent? I wore the most colorful rompers to my internship and still managed to get my work done despite what some may believe. I am an intelligent and capable teenage girl who has an entire career ahead of her. As something I once read explained, if I am not perceived as a brave hawk, I will be the most courageous dove.