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?
Via the sexist bashing of Kamala Harris and all other women candidates, everyone can finally admit that it’s not just #Hillary. ANY woman getting close to the seat of power would get exactly what she got.#EverydayMisogyny https://t.co/m5JiXJXkCX
— Anita Finlay (@AnitaFinlay) January 30, 2019
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.
— Anita Finlay (@AnitaFinlay) January 26, 2019