#38 POWER, POLITICS & PREJUDICE: Dr. Caroline Heldman

“If they don’t like the message they’ll attack the messenger, you!”  Dr. Caroline Heldman

The way I’ve was attacked at Fox had everything to do with me being a woman.  The manner of dismissals, being called Dr. Mc Hottie, being yes drear’d, being patted on the head, being dismissed because folks didn’t like what I’m saying, being dismissed in a way that’s pretty sexist had everything with me being a woman.  It’s fascinating, a right a right-wing station like Fox brings me on because of the way that I look and then to have me back based on the way that I fight.  At the end of the day, I feel I was the lightning rod for a lot of hatred.  I’m exactly what the right hates, I’m a young woman who has a voice so a lot of the attacks became very personal and very sexist. 

I offer young woman words someone told me when I was young and that was to stop caring about what people think about you.  It doesn’t mean you have to run through the world like a bull in a china shop, but we raise our little girls to be very cautious and concerned about how the outside world views them.  That can be about how the world evaluates you for your body or just making sure that you’re not offensive to anyone.  The lessons we teach our little girls actually mediate against them being successful women in the professional world.  The advice I would offer is to know what you stand for, carve out a voice, and expect the blowback.  

My blowback in the last decade has come in the form of thousands of pieces of hate mail on Twitter, Facebook, Email, and voicemail.  Death threats, I get a few serious death threats a year.  I have a panic button in my office, and my office is unmarked.  This is what happens when women have a public voice.  Any woman who speaks up, and women of color get it even worse than white women, you become a target and people want to silence your voice.  I think understanding that people want to silence your voice and not letting them do that is key. One way is to not care so much if people like you.  If you have a mission in this world and a public voice is a way of getting you to your goal of whatever message you are spreading then you have to stop caring or worrying that people are going to like you or aren’t going to like what you have to say.  

Caroline Heldman: Associate Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles; political commentator for Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, MSNBC and Al Jazeera English; Author, TED X Presenter, and Documentary resource (The Mask You Live In; The Hunting Ground; Equal Means Equal) is a woman with a lot to say worth listening to.  Episode #38 VBB



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