Nebraska State Sen. Julie Slama graduated from Yale in December 2017 and quickly returned home to Nebraska to get to work making the state a better place. She was planning to pursue law school, run a lot of miles, and work on campaigns. In January 2019, she made waves when she was appointed to the state legislature representing District One.  Now, in 2020, Slama is 24 years old, a strong young Republican woman, running for re-election, and she’s defending herself against a colleague in the legislature who verbally attacked her on the floor of the legislature, calling her a handmaiden and imagining what would happen if he “enslaved” her and did “what he wanted” to her. 

Senator Ernie Chambers implied Slama had gotten her position via inappropriate encounters with the governor and I cannot even explain how disgusting it was to hear these words come out of the mouth of an elected official, geared towards trying to undermine and attack a young conservative woman who was doing her job. He was responding, according to him, to an advertisement featuring his photograph that compared him to radical extremists. He, of course, immediately  resorted to calling a Republican woman a racist, making sexist remarks, and threatening violence against her. 

You all see him as a hero. I don’t. Suppose I had raped white women. Suppose I enslaved Senator Slama and used her the way that I wanted to? You think Thomas Jefferson was a great man? Do you realize he had a room in Monticello for Sally Hemings? And he had six children by that woman, in the house where his wife lived?” Chambers said

What Slama faced though is not new for Republican women–but it’s time we stop accepting it. Sen. Chambers is, luckily, facing backlash for his comments, but unless he is censured by his colleagues, his words will be without reprimand. You can’t let someone attack an elected official like this in a work environment without consequences. You can’t let men continue to get away with attacks like this on women in politics that set us all back. 

Women in politics, regardless of their party or their age or their background, are too often called names, threatened with violence, and treated like we don’t have minds of our own. Slama is a graduate of an Ivy League university who I know first-hand. She spent every break she could back home, because she loves the state of Nebraska. She survived the liberal campus of Yale as a strong Republican. Her political views come from her life experiences and from herself, not from any outsider.  

To imply that she slept her way into a position is something Nikki Haley dealt with as well. It’s an absolutely disgusting, sexist assertion by men who think they are better than women and that there is one correct way to enter politics. Women running for office work their tail off to get into the boys’ club of so many political groups.

Being young doesn’t mean you aren’t intelligent.

It doesn’t mean you aren’t driven.

It doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified .

I’ve never met anyone that cares about Nebraska like Julie Slama does. To say that she has “no life experience” because she’s 24 instead of 64 leans into a dangerous, hurtful stereotype that tries to keep young people out of politics despite the fact that politics impact them too. Julie Slama has traveled the world, graduated with a political science degree a semester early from an Ivy League university where she 100% had to step outside her comfort zone to grow and thrive, coached teams, and worked on campaigns. If she has no life experience, then there’s certainly no hope for the rest of us. 

Young conservative women deserve to be taken seriously in politics.

They deserve to feel safe at work.

They don’t deserve to be verbally attacked by their colleagues or anyone else for their gender, their age, or their party affiliation. 

All that does is set women back, all of us.

It shouldn’t be tolerated. 

We’re not “b*tches” and “handmaidens” and “kids.” We’re not going to stand by and let sexism dominate politics any longer. 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member