I lead because I must.
There are some serious challenges that are unique to women running for office—having to answer for absurd questions like “who’ll take care of the kids?” and “is your husband babysitting?” is just one of them.
Another challenge is that when you do win, it is sometimes attributed to “the pink wave.” I particularly felt that this year after my primary win against a man. My campaign team and I put in the hard work of running a data-driven campaign, as well as going out and speaking to voters and listening to what they had to say. It can be vexing to hear assumptions that my husband, who served before me in my current office, paved an easy path, or to have to combat a variety of gendered and cultural or racial microaggressions.
I receive tremendous support from family, friends and colleagues—especially those who give me as much encouragement as they do tough love. My community and the district that I currently serve offer a great deal of support also. I have many great mentors: my mom, Rashida Tlaib, Danielle Atkinson, my oldest friend Stacie Haynes-Roberts, and Debbie Dingell, to name a few.
It’s wonderful to see women turning up in record numbers to run for office. Our voices haven’t been heard. Our needs haven’t been met by policies that have been set because of a very patriarchal (and often patronizing) and hierarchical political landscape. I love that we’ve decided that this is our arena. I hope that the women who run but don’t end up serving in government continue to lead in other ways.
Erika Geiss is running to be the State Senator for District 6. She loves her home state of Michigan and wants to fight for schools, teachers, and families in Lansing.