THE BLOG
01/20/2014 07:28 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2014

What It Really Means When the Right Attacks Wendy Davis' Bio

Getty

A gang of men in Texas are trying to burn State Sen. Wendy Davis on a proverbial stake. Almost as soon as the Davis campaign announced that, over the final six months of 2013, they had raised more money that her opponent, the knives came out. As Texans are beginning to unite around Wendy, Greg Abbott and his out-of-touch operatives are scared and relying on the oldest playbook in the world: Tear the woman apart by examining her personal life and saying she isn't perfect enough.

Sen. Wendy Davis made her way from being a young single mother, working several jobs, and living in a trailer to the success story we know today. That powerful narrative is an indisputable truth, a truth that scares Republicans to their very core.

Since Abbott and company know that Wendy's values and policies match the values shared by a majority of Texans, they can't attack her on substance. Instead, they want to say that she didn't live in a trailer long enough for it to "count." They want you to know that her teenage marriage wasn't legally over until she was 21, so the fact that she was struggling as a young mother in the collapse of a failed marriage when she was 19 is not "good enough."

Folks who likely have never had to live off ramen -- or make a frozen pizza last for several meals, as Davis did -- want to say that Sen. Davis did not struggle long enough for her struggle to be important.

Wendy Davis has always highlighted her story, not because it is unique but because it isn't. Every woman, and every person who has ever struggled, knows what it is like for others to pick apart your experiences and choices, looking for any way to yell, "You didn't do it right!"

I went from living in poverty and in a homeless shelter to Harvard, before ending up in Texas. When I was in my teens and early 20s, sometimes I could afford the rent for a cheap apartment, and sometimes I could not. I eventually studied at one of the most prestigious universities in the nation, but I made it through my first year unable to afford a winter coat or regular meals.

I don't know whether my experience of poverty would meet whatever bar of suffering women apparently need to be held to, but I do know that moving from poverty to success is anything but a straight line that can be summarized in a simple sound bite. And I know that those who look at women who have overcome struggle often want to say that we don't meet their specific (un-experience-based) definitions of what the American dream should look like.

The thing is that millions of Texas women know what it's like to have their experiences and decisions examined and picked apart by those who think they know better. When we hear the recent attacks on Wendy Davis, we understand that they're attacking all of our stories.

As soon as the Wendy Davis campaign started to show their strong support in state, the men against her jumped to tired political games. Texans deserve a leader who understands our struggles and works to create more opportunities for our families. Luckily we have a candidate for governor known for being fierce while in the line of attack. Wendy Davis has repeatedly shown that she stands up against those who don't think she deserves to succeed. This time, though, those who are trying to cut down Davis are attacking the experience of all Texas women who have struggled. Someone better tip them off to the whole concept behind "Don't mess with Texas women." The more you attack us, the stronger we all fight back. And no form of attack can stop Wendy Davis from fighting for a better future for all Texans.