‘Female Sexuality and Intelligence Are Not Inversely Related’: This Woman Wants Your Vote for Congress on April 4


There’s nothing to support my hunch that a movie based on Alejandra Campoverdi’s life must be in the works, but if there isn’t one, it’s surely only a matter of time. The 38-year-old is presently running to represent California’s 24th district in Congress, and whether wins the seat or not, her story is a reiteration of the American Dream at its most inspiring: Campoverdi grew up in a government-subsidized building in Santa Monica along with eight other members of her extended family. As the daughter of a single mother who immigrated from Mexico, she grew up as so many children of immigrants do: navigating the traditions of her family and their country of origin amidst a culture that prides itself on being a “melting pot” and yet often holds minorities at arm’s length; in a recent Washington Post article she joked about how her first love as a teenager was a gang member and she still wears a gold necklace with her name on it.

Campoverdi eventually ended up attending the University of Southern California on a scholarship, and after that, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she got her master’s in public policy. She worked as a waitress and a model before signing on to an unpaid position for then-Senator Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, and after he was elected, she worked in the office of the chief of staff and eventually went on become the first-ever deputy director of Hispanic media at the White House.

But as the narrative of exceptional self-made women tend to go, the trolls weren’t about to keep quiet, and sexism was flung at Campoverdi from all angles; during her first week on the job, photos from an old Maxim shoot surfaced. In a terrific essay for Cosmo, Campoverdi recalls how the story of “the Maxim model who landed herself a job in the White House” spread like fleas at the pound, the underlying narrative being that she didn’t get where she was on merit alone. From the essay:

"Men get to be broad and complicated and contradictory. Yet as women, we aren't granted the whole person. We get typecast as the Sexy One, the Brainy One, the Girl Next Door. We don’t create these boxes for ourselves and usually don't agree to them, so why should we have to live within them? Women shouldn’t need to choose between being intelligent and being feminine. Female sexuality and intelligence are not inversely related."

Campoverdi, as you might’ve guessed by now, didn’t let that slow her down. After leaving the White House, she eventually moved back to LA where she worked for the Los Angeles Times on creating video content around issues of immigration. And at present, she’s preparing to undergo pre-emptive double mastectomy in two years as a preventative measure against a genetic mutation that puts her at high risk for the breast cancer with which her mother and grandmother were diagnosed. More immediately, though, she’s getting ready for a tough battle on political grounds: She’s running to replace congressman Xavier Becerra, who vacated his seat to serve as the Attorney General of California.

The special election takes place on April 4 and Campoverdi is running against 23 other candidates. Considering her backstory, it’s not difficult to understand why Campoverdi is a passionate advocate for women’s rights and healthcare in general, and in the wake of the spectacular failure of the GOP healthcare plan last week, there’s no doubt that Obamacare will need fierce advocates in congress as plans to amend, replace or repeal are renewed. Who better to head into battle against a deeply entrenched and sexist political culture than a woman who’s come up against it repeatedly firsthand?

Find out more about Alejandra Campoverdi’s platform and campaign here.

-Deena Drewis