December 19, 2019 - Only Women on Debate Stage Ask for Forgiveness

When all candidates at the sixth Democratic presidential debate were given the opportunity to either ask forgiveness of or offer a gift to someone on stage, Warren and Klobuchar – the only women on stage – are the only candidates to ask for forgiveness. They both ask for forgiveness for the same traits for which women are disproportionately punished. Warren says, “I know that sometimes I get really worked up, and sometimes I get a little hot,” adding, “I don’t really mean to.” Warren explains that her anger was rooted in passion to fight for people in great need of a champion, providing a vocal justification for counter-stereotypic behavior that could otherwise be used against her. Klobuchar offers a similar justification for getting “worked up,” explaining, “It’s because I believe it so much in my heart that we have to bring people with us and not shut them out.” Though subtle, these comments could cause some viewers to consider the bias with which they evaluate women’s expression of emotion. But they are also still framed as pleas for forgiveness for the same passion that is perceived as a positive attribute of political men.