We Heart: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, That “Young Woman in Michigan”

“[A] woman governor” remains scarce: Only nine of our fifty state leaders identify as a woman.

Embarrassing? Sure. Surprising? Of course not. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer—the second female governor in Michigan’s history—is taking the lead in the fight against COVID-19. Michigan arose as a hotbed for the virus in recent weeks, and Whitmer has been busy taking action to abate the spread. 

To successfully protect Michigan residents, Whitmer is working with the federal government—in spite of the fact that President Trump, long known for attacking women, has repeatedly lashed out at Whitmer.

In a press conference on Thursday, Trump disdainfully referred to Whitmer as “the young, a woman governor.”

And on Friday, he asked Vice President Mike Pence to stop calling “the woman in Michigan.”

Whitmer spoke out on Twitter against Trump’s vitriol, insisting that her requests have been “respectful” and calling on Trump to prove that he stands with Michigan by sending the supplies her state’s healthcare workers desperately need.

Trump responded with his own petty tweets—perhaps his favorite form of attack—include calling Whitmer “Failing Michigan Governor” and “Gretchen “Half” Whitmer.” He expounded that she “is way in over her head,” “doesn’t have a clue” and blamed her “ineptitude.”

In an interview on March 29, Whitmer said in reference to these political spats, “This is … not something … we should be fighting each other on. It should be everyone fighting COVID-19.”

But Whitmer is not letting these attacks from the president keep her from doing her duties.

Highlights of Whitmer’s COVID-19-related executive orders include: 

Whitmer has continued to put Michigan residents first, offering them words of comfort on Twitter and attempting to maintain normalcy and contact—albeit digitally.

Perhaps when “a woman governor” is not an anomaly, we can all focus on action instead of attack. 

The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-moving.

During this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media.

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Audrey Andrews is a Ph.D. student in anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is an archaeologist, runner and feminist. Audrey graduated from Columbia University.