Can you vilify Hillary Clinton without being called sexist? Signs point to no…

A friend posited the following on her FB page (paraphrased here).

“It seems that Hillary is attacked due to gender-based perceptions: She’s cold, manipulative, sneaky, can’t be trusted, and so on. Very few people are speaking about the actual issues. Foreign policy? Hillary has laid out a comprehensive set of goals and stances. Trump said that generals are impotent and we must throw money at them. The economy? Hillary has a plan with specifics, goals, and a path to reach them. Trump said “I’m successful and that’s enough.” Yet instead of discussing the differences in policies, people complain about Hillary’s demeanor and call her “cold,” which is just a smidgen away from being called “frigid,” which implies that her worth is tied to how much she enjoys sex. Which has what to do with the Presidency?”

I thought it was a good question, and I’ve been hammering at the answer all day. It’s complicated, because the second one brings up the question of gender in politics, lots of people (mostly men) go instantly on the defensive.

Sound like anyone you know?

Him: “Hillary is a warhawk. I problems with the big money associated with her. I also have issues with her pattern of allowing her opinions to “evolve.”

Me: “So you don’t support Bernie Sanders’ new movement, “Our Revolution” do you? That’s unfortunate because Bernie Sanders stumps for Clinton. This is pure cognitive dissonance at its worst. If you’re for the candidate, why did you vote for him? I am supporting HIS candidate for the presidency.”

Him: “Oh I don’t know, maybe because the differences between him and her where WHY I voted for him in the first place? He has been pretty rock solid regarding his principles. She changes her mind whenever the polls shift.”

Me: “What’s really sad here is that I am trying to find a source for the “she changes her mind too much” stereotype and can’t find one that’s cogent because they all revolve around relationships with men, or that it’s a right belonging to humans. You’d want someone in office who believed absolutely that black people are inferior and should be jailed, but can’t accept someone moderating her views based on evidence that she was wrong? Which one has a healthier sense of integrity?”

Him: “ The Hole in Hillary’s Flip-Flop Excuse: She keeps saying new information makes her change her mind on policy. But what new information?

Me: “From the above article:”

To my knowledge, no new “information” about gay marriage emerged from the day she endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples to the day she demanded the right to same-sex marriage. The immigration, gun control and mass-incarceration issues have been similarly unrippled by shocking new findings. Likewise, the information required to make a stand against the Iraq War was not hidden. Other senators found it and took that position! Perhaps the anti-war information escaped Clinton’s notice—in which case, bad on her—or perhaps she viewed it and decided not to act on it—in which case, double-bad on her. And who among us had a better vantage from which to assemble an encyclopedic view on the Trans-Pacific Partnership than Clinton? She praised it endlessly while secretary of state, but pulled a moonshiner’s turn last week to skedaddle away from it.”

Let’s unpack that accusation, shall we? That No New Information part is opinion on the part of Jack Shafer, the author who wrote the article. It is patently false information.

1. See: Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

2. If you haven’t seen the massive shift in opinion over 1) marriage equality, 2) gay rights, 3) prison inequality, or 4) trade agreements, you haven’t been paying attention to politics in the last ten years. Or you’ve been living under a rock.

Get it? No?

Moving on.

Me: “Regarding Syria: One simple word should be everything you need to know. Are they migrants or refugees? She uses refugees (the correct word) instead of migrants (which sounds completely different and not descriptive in the slightest, but what most conservative media sources prefer). Language is everything. Recognizing you’re wrong and correcting your behavior is a big thing. Has President Obama done everything I wanted him to do? No. Why? Because the GOP have stood in his way in nearly every instance. Will that happen with Hillary Clinton? Why the hell are they fighting SO HARD to keep her out of office, and to maintain their death grip on the House and Senate? Follow the money. There’s a foregone conclusion that she will win the White House (by no means assured from my perspective). So conservative PACs are pumping their money into House and Senate races to keep the Democrats from grabbing control again.”


Did you know that there hasn’t been a bulletproof Democratic majority in the House and Senate since Carter was in office? And look what they had to do to take him down? (Iran-Contra. It’s a thing.)

What I want to know is how the GOP glitterati got away with this crap for so long, without ever being held accountable. I want it to stop. If that happens because Bernie Sanders’ revolution and Hillary Clinton’s presidency makes it so, then I am all in favor of electing her for the job. FOR.

But I digress.

Me: “Meanwhile, your source for the article above appears to be shilling for the GOP, which calls the article itself into question, for bias against Hillary Clinton. Oops? Is Politico a GOP Shill? (Actually a letter from Media Matters for America, magnanimously published by Politico itself.)”

Confused yet?I mean, sure, Politico can post articles like these, and expect people to read them, but there’s this thing called the Internet, which makes it easier to trace back a bit. A little more unpacking here:

Me: “From Media Matters Response:”

“One note, though: Media Matters is closely tied, financially and personally, to Hillary (Newsday had the must-read on that topic). So far, the group stands up for Obama as well as Clinton, and I’m not given to conspiracy theories about financing dictating content. I never had a publisher tell me what to write at the four newspapers I’ve worked for in the last few years. But it’s worth knowing.”

Ironically, the Newsday article that’s referred to in the Politico response leads nowhere, but the article may still be seen beyond the paywall. Its author? One Glenn Thrush, lately of? You guessed it! Politico.

Who to believe?

All of which leads us back to the original question, above. And to this: On the Media: Why Don’t People Trust Hillary Clinton?

and also this:

The Washington Post: How Hillary Clinton helped create what she later called the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’.

(Psst: What if it’s real?)

Okay, so end digression. Again.

Oh, it’s so much easier to fling poo than admit that there’s a problem here. And to deflect from the point than actually admit there’s a problem. I mean, research is HARD!

The Atlantic: Fear of a Female President

Compare and contrast with:

NY Times: Donald Trump’s Alt-Right Brain

Here’s the problem with complaining that rejection of this woman for president makes you sound sexist: It does, because at some level it is. Women are held to a different standard than men. Lots of people deny it, but the facts outweigh the denials. And we can all thank Phyllis Schlafly and women like her for a good percentage of that.

I wish I could find a better source for this issue, but the fact is that there is simply no way to divide out the inherent stereotyping and discrimination that goes with being a woman in a leadership position with her existence AS a woman. I have been told at work (by a woman) that I am too forceful in my opinions and to tone them down because I will offend the artistic director (a man). The rule is that you only get what you want when you sweet-talk your way.

You can probably imagine how I feel about that.

Here are just a couple of choice articles on the subject:

Scientific American: The Problem When Sexism Just Sounds So Darn Friendly…

Quora: What are some of the ways women are discriminated against that men are often unaware of? Why Are Women Biased Against Other Women? We shouldn’t be surprised that both sexes have gender stereotypes about women (and men)

And this doesn’t even begin to address the guilt-by-association that goes along with being Bill Clinton’s wife.

So when a woman doesn’t fit that sweet-talk mandate, there’s hell to pay. And when that woman wants to be President of the United States of America? Well, riddle me this: Would you say the things you do if Hillary Clinton was a single white male?

I doubt it.

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