This post has been updated.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has a new book coming out, "Off the Sidelines," and has been making the media rounds to promote it. The New York Post highlighted parts of the book today, in an article titled, "Gillibrand: Male colleagues called me ‘porky’ after baby."
As awful as that headline is, things get worse in the book, according to the story. One quote in particular stands out. Gillibrand reveals that one male Senator, after she lost about 50 pounds, came up behind her and gave her waist a squeeze. “Don’t lose too much weight now," he told her. "I like my girls chubby.” She says that he was one of her favorite senators(!).
As Gillibrand's title infers, the book goes into detail about the things that women in politics still have to deal with that their male counterparts, well, don't.
Yes, there are more women in Congress than ever before, but there are still far fewer women than men serving. There are 20 women in the Senate, and 79 women in the House. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, women make up only 24.2 percent of all state legislators. A 2013 article from the Texas Observer highlights how this is a problem for women legislators across the country. The reporter tells of the stories women politicians told her.
Some told of senators ogling women on the Senate floor or watching porn on iPads and on state-owned computers, of legislators hitting on female staffers or using them to help them meet women, and of hundreds of little comments in public and private that women had to brush off to go about their day. Some said they often felt marginalized and not listened to—that the sexism in the Legislature made their jobs harder and, at times, produced public policy hostile to women.
Yet, despite their strong feelings, women in the Capitol rarely talk about, except in the most private discussions, the misogyny they see all the time. It’s just the way the Legislature has always been.
Gillibrand surely isn't alone in having to deal with such comments with her male colleagues at the Capitol, although some of her encounters are jaw-droppingly bad/offensive. When she was still in the House, a representative told her, “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat."
Gillibrand often talks about women in politics -- and the problems she has with how they are treated and portrayed. For example, she has a big problem with "House of Cards" for this reason. She told CNN, "My colleagues are much nicer. Most of the women in the series are portrayed as quite cold and calculating but my experience is I adore the female colleagues I have in the Senate." She went on the Daily Show in 2012 to talk about why more women need to be elected.
In case you were wondering, you can add Gillibrand as a "no" to the 2016 files; she's said during interviews she has no interest in entering the presidential race. However, Gillibrand has said repeatedly that Hillary Clinton should run.