Hillary Clinton was recently chosen America’s most admired woman for an unprecedented 21st year, yet the boundless admiration she inspires is matched by irrational revulsion. The chasm between positive and negative made it critical that we examine what her presence meant on the world stage as she vied to become our first woman President, yet too many looked away: “We’re past all that, we don’t need feminism anymore.” How wrong they were. Beyond agenda-driven sexist media bias, the ultimate obstruction to Hillary’s breaking the “highest, hardest glass ceiling” was the refusal of certain white males (62% to be exact) to overcome their insecurity.
More irrational Hillary-hate was just evidenced by MSNBC contributor and #privilegedwhitemale Josh Barro, who has a penchant for trashing both Hillary and daughter Chelsea. He tweets:
Well, Josh, I suppose that Hillary Clinton could have just stayed home and baked cookies & had teas. Is that what you would have preferred? pic.twitter.com/xIigVhakGT
— ♀️ (@bitchyologist) March 27, 2017
Hillary Clinton was the most accomplished, prepared presidential candidate in a generation. Despite Russian interference in our election, daily bashing by media and a partisan FBI Director, she still won the popular vote by 2.9 million and garnered more votes than any white male in history. It is unfathomable that such a woman should daily be told to STFU by the likes of Barro. What male candidate doing half as well ever received this disrespect? It is as though Hillary, and by extension all women, must now be put down – hard – for even trying. Woman: know your place!
During Clinton’s successful tenure as Secretary of State, Esquire’s Tom Junod wrote of Hillary’s “unforgivable competence.” To whom was Hillary’s competence unforgivable? Someone jealous of seeing her succeed? Is that why journalists like Bob Woodward complained of her “shouting”? Was it Hillary’s volume he disliked, or female power? Competence is sorely missing now as evidenced by Trump’s routine Twitter meltdowns. [As an aside, I’d never received more hateful, irrational comments from men than when I wrote a piece last year entitled: Hillary Not Shouting Boys, She’s In Charge. Their comments made my argument for me and sadly, distracted from so many men who support empowered women.]
Having covered Clinton for 20 years, Mr. Junod discussed the phenomenon of male Hillary-hate, declaring that it is “deeply, deeply sexual.” But how can it be when those who “hate” her make her out to be so undesirable? According to Junod, Hillary is “an attractive woman with a full and appealing laugh,” yet she is painted as a “mean nun.”
Further, it is as if no one can feel anything good about her without reflexively adding a negative. Why? Even while Junod reminded us that Hillary’s had long been a “trailblazer” and was the first woman with a shot at “real power,” he tempered his compliment by insisting “she is not a transcendent figure,” telegraphing competitiveness with, or fear, of the encroaching female. Clinton’s tireless work to empower women here and around the world presented us with a unique opportunity to grow societies’ economies and help the peace process, since it is proven fact that when a society’s women are involved, peace has a better chance of being achieved, and of lasting. What could have been more transcendent?
Junod, Barro and others must see “transcendence” as the purview of the male, automatically diminishing the female. While Junod gives no reason for the “deeply sexual” roots of Hillary hate, he gets the reason right: Power. Sex is power. In that light, the “mean nun” descriptor makes more sense.
By the way, Josh Barro’s Twitter bio reads: a man at night and a man in the morning.
Since some men use sexual dominance as a way to maintain power over women, perhaps their “deeply sexual” hatred of Clinton is about their not wanting her to have power over them. If so, then such a man can’t acknowledge Hillary’s positive qualities, accomplishments or stature. If he admitted to her “unforgiveable competence” and yes, likeability, then in his insecure view, he would be diminished.
In that same vein, a reporter praised Hillary’s 2016 policy prescriptions for reining in Wall St. but comforted himself by concluding that she is “not brilliant.” So, she has achieved more than most men or women do in ten lifetimes by being “average”? What would his admitting to her brilliance have cost him?
Hillary has been called “plodding” – again to make her seem frowsy and dull. When she ran for President in 2008, pundits, particularly on MSNBC, called her “bitch,” “witch” and “she devil.” She was defined by her pantsuits and derided in the New York Times for her “cackle.”
The name-calling, along with big media’s choice of every unflattering photo of her, was and is designed to objectify, to make you uncomfortable with the Hillary label before you’ve had a chance to see the real woman or her qualifications.
In my travels covering Hillary over the past 9 years, the visceral “Hillary hate” had no logical explanation. She is a shadow projection – or as she has said, “a Rorschach test for America” – for any trait one feared in someone else or didn’t like about themselves.
This helps explain our obsession with objectifying women by breaking them down into body parts. Tits and ass – or a cackle – are easier to dismiss than an entire person. A woman’s appearance can be used to ridicule her via demeaning imagery: Hillary’s head sticking out of a toilet. Hillary nutcracker dolls. Hillary toilet paper. Remember SPY’s magazine cover with Hillary’s skirt blown up revealing male briefs with the outline of a penis underneath? A woman’s sexuality can be used as a weapon to demean and humiliate: “If I can screw it, I can own it.”
The name calling and objectification seek to render unnecessary any investigation into the facts of Hillary’s record. Since our culture places so much emphasis on beauty, to “ugli-fy” a woman or to make her a “mean nun” is to deny her sexuality altogether, and therefore, her power. And if a woman is neither a sexual being nor a “mean nun,” then she’s the mommy.
Clinton is a tough cookie and a professional politician, but the degree to which she was and is criticized, the need to have her be all things to all people indicates that on some level we relate to her as the archetypal mother. That association can unleash powerful feelings which defy logic. We expect mommy to make it all better. Obviously, no one person can. So she fails because she can’t be perfect. Can that be the reason for the ridiculous double standards Hillary, and other women, are forced to endure? These are expectations with which we would never burden any male politician. “Boys will be boys” – but a woman? Goldilocks’ porridge will always be too hot or too cold for some.
This brings us to the third leg of irrational Hillary-hate: Her unfathomable endurance and energy.
MSNBC (and Donald Trump) called Hillary “low energy”; code for old and tired. Ask Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi “Investigative” committee what they thought after Clinton’s bravura 11-hour endurance test via their hostile grilling of her. She emerged fresh as a daisy. Gowdy, covered in flop sweat, looked like he needed a shower, a burger and a good nap – not necessarily in that order.
As Esquire’s Junod has acknowledged “That woman is made of iron.” Maybe that’s a frustration too – there is a need to see her break. Isn’t that what women are supposed to do?
Hillary Clinton, in all her glorious imperfections, will not be pigeonholed. Looking at her record as a champion of education, of children with disabilities, first responders and veterans, she remains as caring as she is tenacious. But lazy reporters remain content with “combative” stereotypes that distract from her achievements. I’ve known a few “haters” who changed their tune upon being in the same room with her when they discovered the caricature of her was but click-bait driven media fiction.
We have all heard someone say, “I have no problem electing a woman, just not that woman!” A closer look at how we judge powerful women shows that is neither a realistic nor truthful statement. Any woman reaching as high as Hillary did, who’s been around as long as Hillary has, would have gotten what Hillary got.
As to those who complain she is “corrupt,” Republicans have been making accusations and hauling her before “committees” for 25 years yet came up with nothing. So she’s either very smart, they’re not, or there was never any there there. See shameful FBI Director Comey’s coup de grace letter 11 days before the election alluding to an FBI investigation that didn’t exist.
It also is worth asking how voters could have listened to the fiery shouts of a 75-year-old white male with no foreign policy experience; who spent nearly 30 years in Congress amassing few accomplishments and fewer endorsements, whose plans were short on detail and chosen him over a Secretary of State and Senator with proven mettle, specific policies and substantive achievements unless they were desperate for an excuse not to put a woman in charge.
If someone prefers another politician’s positions, that is one thing. But “hatred” for someone who has spent a lifetime working on behalf of others is not logical.
If after looking at Hillary Clinton’s record, there is “hatred” beyond honest policy disagreement, that person has ingested someone else’s agenda. If any of it feels like something they’d want to yell at mommy, a female boss, a girl who got a better grade or turned them down for a date, an ex-lover or a spouse, they’re angry at the wrong lady.