“I don’t necessarily think it was intentional on his part. I think that’s just a symptom of white male privilege, right? You guys don’t even realize what’s happening, because you are privileged to be able to walk through this world in the way that you do,” Norelli said. “And so whether it’s gender privilege, or skin color privilege, or wealth privilege, and I think people who have privilege generally, are often not even aware of it and certainly are generally not willing to give it up.”
The sentiment was backed up by Monica Ciolfi, a respected Concord attorney and abortion rights activist who also served as senior adviser to Rep. Ann McLane Kuster during her first term. She said a female candidate would have faced condemnation for being as “assertive and aggressive” as Buttigieg during his speech.
“Had a woman made the same type of statement, it would have been viewed much more harshly,” said Ciolfi, a supporter of Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “There would have been different adjectives attached to that kind of announcement like arrogant or unfounded or preposterous.”
Kathy Sullivan, a former state party chair and current DNC committeewoman, said New Hampshire voters are generally supportive of female candidates. She pointed to 2016, when New Hampshire became the first state in history to have an all-female delegation along with a female governor and state Supreme Court chief justice.
“He was out over his skis a little bit when he did that,” said Sullivan, a Warren supporter. “Sometimes when you get too far over your skis, sometimes it works out, sometimes you crash. It was just a little bit of hubris there. Sometimes you need to be a little more cautious, a little more careful. There’s nothing wrong with being confident. Nothing. I mean, that’s a good thing.”
Buttigieg has wide support from women in the state, including Kuster, the most senior elected official to make an endorsement in the primary, who is spending significant time campaigning for him.
Some of his top female supporters pushed back on the complaints, including Jennifer Frizzell, director of policy for the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, who introduced him ahead of his town hall in the state’s capital on Tuesday night.