Sexism Isn’t About THAT Woman—But ALL Women

01 Feb 2019

Kamala Harris Gets Hillary’d

Sexist attacks are daily lobbed at Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar over social media and, of course, by the pundit class on mainstream media. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spanked Trump hard on his horrid shutdown, reminding us how fierce she is at holding together her Parties’ coalition, rendering foolish anyone who called for “new blood” in opposing her return to leadership.  Senator Kamala Harris’ successful presidential campaign launch in Oakland saw her immediately hit with “slept her way to the top” attacks from none other than a prominent Bernie supporter.  Seeing a pattern yet?

Men and complicit women who said its ‘just Hillary’ who gets attacked owing to her “baggage” or “flaws” are, either consciously or otherwise, parroting GOP and corporate media talking points that they have been brainwashed to believe over time.  It isn’t the first insult that takes you down.  It’s the repetition.  When Hillary Clinton ran in 2008 and in 2016, the attacks were so constant that even some allies had their doubts. That is by design.

A politically savvy progressive girlfriend once said “Hillary’s too brilliant to be President.”  Did that mean nobody likes a smarty-pants? Camille Paglia accused her of “shiny careerism,” called her “frumpy, stumpy and myopic” and a “feminazi”.  MSNBC’s Chris Matthews among many others referred to her as “hellish housewife,” “Nurse Ratched,” “she-devil” and “bitch.”  How many bloody “think pieces” and TV commentaries did we have to endure about her “likeability” or “tone”?

What has changed?  We remain uncomfortable with women who seek power.  I wrote these words seven years ago in Dirty Words on Clean Skin:

Some college-aged women [said] they turned away from Hillary just so they wouldn’t be verbally attacked.  To run from a candidate due to peer pressure, or a fear of being ostracized, makes clear we are not done with old battles on behalf of women’s rights.

A colleague of mine said she was in a supermarket and had encountered other Hillary supporters who spoke in whispers.  “What happened to free speech?” she asked.  I’d had the same experience in the workplace.  I whispered my support so as not to “offend” opposing democrats.  Yet they felt no need to whisper.

It could also be argued that even women who voted for Hillary were running from her, because they felt uncomfortable voicing full throated support.  Feeling cowed about one’s passion for a candidate, at the very least, a woman might be less likely to encourage others to support Hillary, despite sticking with her in the privacy of the voting booth.

Mainstream media and every opponent—on both sides of the aisle—worked daily not only to discredit her but her supporters, making them cowed, and indeed, ashamed to support her. Her qualifications didn’t matter. 2016 was no different. The insulting verbiage was more subtle but just as devastating.  So many of her supporters still resorted to private Facebook groups so as not to be attacked by GOP, Bernie Bros or Russian bots.

Accusations of inauthenticity, hawkishness, corporatism and using men for advancement are already being leveled at Senator Kamala Harris to diminish her.  We must acknowledge that the easiest way to discredit a woman is also the oldest—call her duplicitous, greedy and a whore.

By now you know every tool in the sexist/misogynist arsenal.  Are you going to let them get away with it again?  Hillary Clinton is the trail blazer who has made it possible for Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren to run for President.  But make no mistake, the closer any one of them gets to the seat of power, the more viciously they will be demonized. Anyone who thinks any of them will get any better treatment than Hillary Clinton got isn’t paying attention.

Fight back. Zero tolerance. Don’t pretend you don’t know what’s coming.

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Comments

  1. Thank you, Anita for this article astutely pointing out what those of us who stood by Hillary in 2006 and 2012 already knew — it NEVER was about Hillary not being the “right” woman, it was as you said, “any woman” who dares get close to the most powerful position in the world. In 2016, I had a Hillary sticker on my car and was awarded a nasty note from someone who chose to remain anonymous instead of telling me to my face the asinine things they said in the note. Coward! I would love to have had the chance to voice my opinion too. Nonetheless, I was honored and proud to get a rise out of this very insecure person in my outward display of support for Hillary.

    Now that Corey Booker is in the race, let’s see if he gets attacked too or will the media fluff his pillows like they did Obama’s! Of course, there is that accusation against Corey of a sexual assault by a gay man that’s been in the news, but I doubt it will get the same attention from the media if it had been some kind of sexual indiscretion by any of the women in the race. We’ll see.

    Once I have had the chance to get to know those democratic candidates running, I will put my time and energy into working for the person I think is best qualified. I am particularly interested in the women running because I think what’s needed in the oval office is a woman for a change. I don’t see any of the men being head and shoulders above the women so far. Sadly, none of these candidates can hold a candle to Hillary’s qualifications, experience, and understanding of how to work the system to the advantage of the people. We could have had the best, but the patriarchy would rather destroy the village than have a woman in charge of it (trump is proof of that!) I really like Harris but hope that Klobuchar will throw her hat in the ring because I would like to compare the two.

    I pray that biden, sanders or Schultz won’t run. Biden’s time has past (and he failed miserably when he ran 2 times before); sanders is just too divisive and has not shown that he has the temperament to be president (wagging that finger at everyone), nor has he utilized his lengthy time in both the house and senate in having achieved anything of any real relevance that has improved people’s lives in a significant way. Makes you wonder what he’s been doing all this time. Schultz is just another older white male billionaire who thinks “only he can fix it!” We can do better than this and cannot afford to settle.

  2. Sunny Lockwood Says: February 1, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you, Anita, for clearly stating what needs to be said. The mysogyny is so common, so all encompassing (like the air we breathe), that many don’t even notice it, until someone takes the time and energy to point it out. Thank you, Anita, for being that someone. Your essay is excellent.

  3. Inez Goodine Says: February 3, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    I am .canadian and would like to send a message to Jamal’s Harris to clear up a misconception with regRd to our Health ?Care .system in Canada. We do have a Medicare for all System that provides ‘basic’ Health Care for all. Basic Health .care provides coverage for visits to your Doctor as well as access to Emergency Care at a Clinic or Hospital as well as ‘in Hospital Care’ in a Ward that may include four or more patients unless the Doctor stipulates that a semiprivate or private room is essential.

    In Canada, those who wish to do so can and most do carry Supplemental Medical Insurance which, depending on the coverage you select, will provide for an upgrade to a semi private room in a Hospital provided one is available, at no additional cost as well as coverage for Medications ordered by a qualified Physician and/or Travel Insurance if required.

  4. Jason Slupski Says: February 4, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    “Bernie Bros” This article just lost any and all merit for me.

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