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Presidential contender Kamala Harris held her first official campaign event in South Carolina, a key state in the upcoming Democratic primaries. Friday night, she spoke to a crowd of roughly 1,000 at a town hall at Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. She reaffirmed her support for sensible gun safety laws, including universal background checks and closing the "Charleston loophole." She fielded questions from voters about how she'd address mass incarceration. Actual issues were discussed, but then she went and spoiled it all by doing something stupid like eating in public.

Harris filled her tummy with Lowcountry goodness at Rodney Scott's BBQ. Later her press secretary, Ian Sams, tweeted a photo of the senator adding a hefty dollop of Texas Pete to her collard greens because she's civilized. Some chose to interpret this as "pandering." Because some are literally killing us with this.


Sams probably just tagged Texas Pete in his tweet because he's a professional who knows how social media works. It wasn't an attempt to go "ooh, ooh, our candidate's black" because we can all see that. Sams used to work for Hillary Clinton, who had her own hot sauce drama during her 2016 campaign, so there's been speculation about some sort of "neoliberal shill" connection. That's silly.

Candice Aiston on Medium wondered how we'd examine Harris's record if we did something crazy like actually trust women. The "Kamala is a cop" narrative, for instance, probably wouldn't gain any traction. Taking this further, we wouldn't presume she lied about the music she listened to while smoking pot. Who remembers anything when they're high? If you're boasting total recall, you were sold some bad shit. We'd also believe she genuinely enjoys hot sauce and not see nefarious motives in someone pointing it out. Humanizing candidates in the eyes of voters has been a part of presidential campaigns long before women dared to run themselves. Al Gore lost to George W. Bush because people thought he was an unfeeling android who was unable to use contractions. Bush, on the other hand, was someone people wanted to "have a beer with," and that's why global warming will kill us all.

Last week, Kirsten Gillibrand was campaigning in Columbia, South Carolina. She met with 20 black leaders for a small business roundtable at Kiki's Chicken and Waffles. When the food arrived, Gillibrand started eating her chicken with a fork but she noticed that everyone else was going forkless. She asked her host what the protocol was and then happily dove in fingers first. OMG, that was so nice. We already crushed hard on Gillibrand, but now we just love her to death. She's so nice. She notices what people around her are doing and wants to make them comfortable. How could anyone not see this and think, "What a nice woman"?

We declined to play Rich's misogynist game show "Scheming Shrew or Desperate Harpy?" because the only possible response to his "serious question" is an extended middle finger.

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times was slightly less gross than Rich but still obnoxious. He snidely wondered if this was "really" the first time she's eaten fried chicken in 50 years. (See, Gillibrand is old, y'all. Never forget that she's a woman who cared so little about her constituents she willingly aged.)

Eating with the "average Joe" is a vital part of not just campaigning for president but governing as one. The ritual of sharing a meal connects politicians with their supporters. If we scrutinize women candidates to death, if we comment negatively on the smallest action, we are denying them the chance to appear human before voters. That is perhaps a feature not a bug.

Saturday, Harris visited women-owned shops in Columbia. She tried on a rainbow sequined jacket at Styled by Naida, and conservatives lost their minds. See, shopping is frivolous. It's something women do, after all. It's not at all the same as a male politician visiting a male-owned small business and sampling its products, which has happened during every election in modern history.

Harris looked great in the jacket, so much like our late mother, in fact, we had to take a moment. Obviously, her detractors claim the press is in the tank for her. Yet, if she'd looked silly, her political opponents would've made the video go viral all by themselves. Wearing Joseph's amazing technicolor dreamcoat is a bold move. Harris later took the jacket home with her because she's awesome.

Critics now claim that Harris is too much of a weed-smoking, hot-sauce chugging "fun auntie" to be taken seriously as president. Wasn't she a hard-assed cop just days ago? Women candidates are apparently either not likable/relatable or too likable/relatable. It's the Goldilocks conundrum except there's no "just right" setting.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.

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