HillaryMen Peter Daou and Tom Watson have my gratitude for exposing certain media operative’s loop of sexist tropes used to attack Hillary Clinton. The words “testy,” “combative,” “calculating,” “defiant,” “conniving” and “secretive” as applied to her have one purpose: character assassination designed to distract from her policy prescriptions and derail her presidential campaign. That is not too strong a statement. No man is described in such terms. Pundits repeating and cross-referencing each others’ sexist descriptions of Hillary Clinton harken back to a discrediting of the feminine that has plagued women who dare to be heard for centuries:
“There are some meannesses which are too mean even for man – woman, lovely woman alone, can venture to commit them.”
— William Makepeace Thackeray
“Cunning women and witches we read of without number, but wisdom never entered into the character of a woman. It is not a requisite of the sex.”
— Samuel Richardson
“[A] woman preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.
— Samuel Johnson
Having written about the dung hurled at Hillary by famous pundits and journalists in her 2008 campaign, I’m familiar with the methodology used to isolate, ridicule and reject a qualified woman candidate. Then, she was called “Vaginal American,” “Sybil,” “hellish housewife,” “Nurse Ratched,” “she-devil” and “white bitch.” The elbow jabbing, locker room antics of newscasters telegraphed that one should be “ashamed” to support Hillary. Yet in 2015, the beltway cabal is likely hip to the fact that this isn’t 2008; the year misogyny was made cool. But if it worked once, they figure it will work again, albeit in a more subtle form. Today, the memes are better coded.
Since forewarned is forearmed, I share Messrs. Daou and Watson’s helpful thesaurus and explanation for the reasons behind current Hillary frames. When you encounter these tactics, know that journalism is secondary to agenda and influence peddling:
“It is difficult to overstate the impact of these word clusters. Persuasion by repetition is a powerful thing; it is how the public absorbs information and forms opinions. The added gender bias with respect to Hillary further exacerbates the effect, as the terms tap into a deep well of cultural sexism. Furthermore, many of the negative words associated with Hillary are focus-grouped by shadowy conservative research groups and surreptitiously fed to the media:
Man = firm. Woman = testy.
A male candidate is smart, while Hillary is “calculating, scheming, crafty, manipulative.”
A male candidate values privacy, while Hillary is “secretive, suspicious, paranoid, uncommunicative.”
A male candidate takes strong positions, while Hillary is “polarizing, divisive, alienating.”
A male candidate deserves the benefit of the doubt, while Hillary is “untrustworthy, corrupt, deceitful, dishonest, unethical.”
A male candidate is an achiever while Hillary is “over-ambitious, will do or say anything to win.”
A male candidate is diplomatic while Hillary is “inauthentic, disingenuous, fake, unlikable, insincere.”
A male candidate is solid and unflappable, while Hillary is “machine-like, robotic, abnormal, cold.”
A male candidate is a confident leader, while Hillary is “inevitable, defiant, imperious, regal, testy.”
A male candidate is experienced, while Hillary is “old, out of touch, represents the past.””
Hillary Clinton is immensely popular with Democrats. Far from “imploding,” as breathless “reporters” pretend in their desperation to create a horse race, she is running an intelligent campaign and is addressing issues important to many Americans.
There are certainly honorable reporters in local or foreign media, and yes, some write for major news outlets. And while they may at points be critical of Hillary Clinton, you’ll know you’re reading honest reportage because the “adjective police” won’t be trying to influence your vote.