The criticisms leveled at Hillary Clinton are in an orbit beyond familiar disparities in male vs. female candidates’ coverage and treatment. Last week, four of Bernie Sander’s campaign staffers “improperly accessed the Hillary Clinton campaign’s proprietary voter database” and downloaded private Clinton voter data. Sanders apologized for the breach during last Saturday’s debate. Hillary accepted, even while his campaign distracted from their actions by claiming Sanders’ brief punishment was a “conspiracy” against him to benefit Hillary. If past is prologue, the press will move to magically make the whole thing her fault. Sanders even intimated Hillary and others should be investigated for doing what his campaign did, though there was no evidence to warrant such a charge.
But if Clinton had been guilty of breaching another candidate’s voter data, every attempt would be made to run her out of the race. The beltway press, and candidates of all stripes, would have their torches and pitchforks out. But for a man? *Crickets* Secretary Clinton was encouraged by all to be magnanimous to Senator Sanders. What if she weren’t? Clinton would have been called bitch, witch, shrew, conniving, egomaniac and more. Does anyone doubt this?
Clinton was eager to move on and made a show of unity with Sanders, realizing whoever wins will need the others’ supporters to win next November. Yet Sanders’ campaign filed suit against the DNC, perhaps to the take focus off their staffers’ behavior. Who is the adult in the room? And why are we loath to give Hillary Clinton credit for being a class act? If the situation were reversed and the man had been “forgiving,” would we have been so dismissive?
On other fronts, Republican front runner Donald Trump, ever more Neanderthal, just said Hillary was “schlonged” by Obama in 2008 and that she was “disgusting” because she went to the bathroom during Saturday’s debate. From Jennifer Weiner of the NY Times:
“Trump said: “I know where she went — it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it.” (This from a man who’s been married three times, has fathered five children, and presumably understands that even hot models occasionally need to pee.)”
Sanders helpfully informed the “confused” Trump that he went to the bathroom, too, but that didn’t seem to matter.
The corporate-owned media loves click bait, so rather than nailing Trump for the manipulative rabble rouser he is, they are preoccupied with pressing Hillary to apologize to him for pointing out his anti-Muslim rhetoric is an “ISIS recruiting tool.” Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who understands terrorism on a cellular level, agrees with Hillary, by the way. But big media seems loathe to ask Trump apologize to Hillary – and all women – for his grotesque, backward comments.
Politics aside, why are certain quarters anxious to throw a powerful woman under the bus, with no qualms about doing it in a way that disrespects all women? What message does it send to our young people that the woman must forgive the man any transgression but that the man has no such obligation? That a man like Trump can still degrade Hillary Clinton for her very womanhood or, in the alternative, imply that ancient misogynist stereotypes still apply, says something both sad and disturbing about our culture.
In a ridiculous development, NBC’s Matt Lauer and Chuck Todd both agreed with Jeb Bush that “Hillary likes being attacked,” and would “play the victim” over the “schlonged” comments. I assume this charge is a sexist’s attempt to paper over his guilty conscience with familiar victim blaming: “She must want it.”
She didn’t…and didn’t “play the victim” either.
By the way, if men like Bush, Todd or Lauer ever got anywhere near the full dose of what Hillary gets daily, they’d be balled up in a corner, crying…and whining like Trump does. Bullies have no character and less spine.
The suspicions aimed at a powerful woman, that she must be “conniving,” “underhanded” or “disgusting,” remind of frat boys who use old tropes to elevate themselves at a woman’s expense. Those dirty words only magnify the insecurity of the man using them. If you cannot win against a woman with a legitimate argument, then you don’t have one. Any man who must heap filth upon a woman to make himself look better might need to look in the mirror for what is “disgusting.”
That the corporate (male-owned) media would play to these sexist stereotypes, particularly where Clinton is concerned, indicates that she is 1) so threatening to the white male status quo that they are throwing the kitchen sink at her, happy to let the odious, publicity seeking Trump do their dirty work and 2) that she is much closer to breaking the highest, hardest glass ceiling than they would like to admit.
Only when we stop buying into the worst clichés about strong women will we have a chance at embracing effective leadership and a sea change. Hint: If you’re waiting for a crude, nasty old white man to bring that change for you, think again.