Christine Quinn Didn't Want to Focus On Her Gender or Sexuality — So Why Do We Insist On It?

Christine Quinn "wanted her campaign to be focused on her competence and accomplishments, not her gender." Did this screw her over?

That's the question the New York Times is asking today, in the wake of Quinn's loss yesterday in New York City's Democratic primary. Once the frontrunner to be the party's mayoral candidate, Quinn wound up coming in third with voters.

According to the Times, Quinn's posse had sat her down in July "for some honest talk" about her chances. If she wanted to win, she needed to tone down the toughness and drive; maybe get a voice coach and new clothes. She needed to think about what it meant to be a woman in this race. Quinn's response?

“I don’t get up in the morning thinking about how I’ll approach this as a woman or a lesbian; I think about the issues."

Bam! It's an admirable position to take — but a winning one? Apparently not.

Yet is it really fair to blame Quinn's loss on her lack of womanly charms? I don't know. The major complaint from Quinn's critics seemed to be that she was too close to current Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Exit polls showed no gender gap in the results and indicated that Ms. Quinn lost for a number of reasons — her close association with the plutocratic incumbent mayor, her rivals’ ability to outmaneuver her on the issue of stop-and-frisk policing, and her inability to be a change candidate in an election in which voters sought new direction.

Still, the Times speculates that it was "simply too much" for voters that Quinn is both a woman and openly gay.

I've been trying to figure out why this article rubbed me the wrong way, and I think that's it right there. Despite noting that Quinn didn't want to make this race about her gender or sexual orientation, and that the electorate didn't have much to say about her gender or sexual orientation, the Times is still framing this as a problem involving her gender and sexual orientation.

"In interviews with allies and opponents, as well as members of the Quinn campaign team, not one person blamed her loss wholly, or even mostly, on gender," the Times article notes. Well, then why are we talking about it now?

The article goes on to note that women almost never vote as a bloc in city races, so it's likely that pushing the sisterhood angle would've been futile for Quinn anyway. Meanwhile, opponent Bill de Blasio offered up family-friendly plans, such as expanding preschool programs, that made him an attractive candidate to women voters.

The bottom line seems to be that Quinn ran a mediocre campaign and lost on her (lack of) merits. And from the impression I get of Quinn, she'd rather us see it this way than search out all the ways homophobia or sexism may have been at play.