Leave Hillary Clinton Alone
Why criticisms of HRC are and have always been deeply rooted in misogyny.
I have my many, many gripes with Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is wildly inconsistent; she is corrupt, both proactively and by consequence; her foreign policy decisions are dubious at best; she has been blissfully dismissive of the concerns of minority communities; she makes promises she does not keep. In other words, she is wholly one thing: an American politician.
Aside from her professional shortcomings, many might describe Hillary as other things – some of which I or virtually any woman has been called on the Internet at some point in their life: “cold”, “inaccessible”, “distant”, “fake”, “ugly,” “a grandma”, “lame”, “unfashionable”, “gross”, “severe”, “a cunt”, “crazy”, or “a bitch.” And that is where it begins.
In 2016 Hillary Clinton ran a deeply flawed presidential campaign against Donald J Trump. Both campaigns and the following election are to be scrutinized for many reasons: dishonesty, bigotry, slander, deceit, corruption… But lest we forget, Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump.
From the very beginning, “criticisms” of Hillary Clinton and her potential presidency were eerily unique. At first, it was the usual sexist bullshit: constantly linking her professional failures to her personality or private life, attributing her success or qualifications to her husband – (and simultaneously failing to recognize that Bill is to blame for many of Hillary’s mistakes), trashing her appearance or her clothing, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary. But the campaign, the primaries, Bernie Sanders, social media, faux millennial activism, and Donald J Trump turned it into something else.
It wasn’t until Bernie Sanders that I realized how much people hated Hillary Clinton. Was he a better candidate? Perhaps. Is he far less problematic, and does he carry a cleaner track record? Sure. But to a clueless outsider, the Hillary versus Bernie debate would appear like a fight between Satan and Jesus, when in reality we were dealing with two people almost cut from the same cloth, with one more tainted and complex than the other. Pre-primaries, what people had to say about Hillary was unlike anything I have ever seen before. No Hillary-trashing on behalf of a conservative surprised me: at least in their case, they could shroud their misogyny with an argument about differing political views, not wanting “eight more years of this,” or some shit like that. It was what I saw and heard from leftist Bernie fanatics and millennial “activists” on Facebook that really fucking blew my mind. I don’t remember a single day where Twitter or Facebook wasn’t infiltrated with heinous and violent verbal attacks towards Hillary Clinton, ludicrous fake news and propaganda about her, or useless posts about how uncool, boring, or lame she was. I guess looking back, it wasn’t what was said about Hillary that was new or shocking – because the way we talk about women with power and influence has always been like this – but merely the volume of the content. Hillary hate was out there every day, but we were uncomfortably silent about everyone else. In early 2016, a bunch of men running for the office of the president were skipping around insulting minorities, claiming evolution was fake, or dealing with their own scandals.
People on the left did not attack Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, or Ben Carson like they attacked Hillary. Online platforms became a frightening cesspool of people willfully ignoring potential dangers, while instead aggressively polarizing the Hillary versus Bernie camps without any willingness to engage in constructive dialogue or critique. It was almost as if men were getting away with absolutely anything, and women absolutely nothing.
Nothing changed when Trump got the nomination. The question of whether all liberals should have voted for Hillary regardless of whether they supported her is complicated and irrelevant at this point, considering she received the same brutal attacks that she did before the primaries from right and left-wingers alike. Young liberals channeled their frustration about Bernie’s loss into daily vicious attacks towards Hillary: how much they hated her, or what a monster she was. Hours of what could have been spent organizing, preparing, reading, or helping were spent reblogging sexist Reddit memes, sharing fake news from “.net” sites, or crafting trite 140-character tweets. Then there was “grab em by the pussy,” the dozens of sexual assault accusations, the Miss Universe fiasco, which rightfully turned the tables and finally elevated Hillary above Trump.
The backlash that Trump got about assaulting women, mocking disabled people, or exiling minorities lasted approximately 35 seconds, and in a whirlwind of manipulation, misinformation and confusion, it swirled back to the emails, where it all began. And we ate that shit up.
And now here we are. It is January 25th, 2017, three days into Donald Trump’s presidency, and men are still talking about Hillary Clinton. In just three days, Trump has: restricted women’s health services internationally, revived a pipeline that threatens the lives of indigenous populations, planned to build a wall, cried about the size of his inauguration crowd, lied about the size of his inauguration crowd, probably shit his pants, tweeted with poor grammar, planned to take healthcare away from people without any feasible alternative, and censored the press. But wait, did you know that Hillary Clinton used a private email server?
It is January 25th, 2017, and men are harassing and insulting Hillary Clinton, comparing her to Bernie Sanders, who is a literal sitting senator “fighting” because he is doing his literal job for a literal paycheck. Hillary Clinton is a private citizen, with both no motive and no obligation to do anything for anyone but herself. There are hundreds of men sitting in Congress right now getting paid to do what they’re supposed to do. It is their job. Not hers.
I suppose that next week, when Barack Obama returns from his post-inauguration vacation, you’ll lash out at him with as much callousness and vitriol for living his life as a father and a husband and a normal person and not “saving the day.” As we’re being launched into a quasi-fascist regime, keep spending your days critiquing a woman who is living her life as a private citizen, and keep blindly worshipping the flawed men who are currently in office. Keep thinking Hillary is infinitely worse than any other previous president, who has engaged in the same dishonesty, dismissal, violence, or condescension that is simply intrinsic to the very nature of American politics. (That one’s for you too, Bill!) Your “activism” is shameful, superficial, petty and useless. And above all, it is blatantly and infuriatingly sexist. Keep hating women like you do, keep asking women to be responsible and keep insulting them for when they try. We can’t ever win.