Thursday, February 4, 2016

Of Brick Walls and Glass Ceilings

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville wasn’t always a Hillary Clinton supporter, but now she makes her case.

Not a perfect person. Not even a perfect candidate. I am not distressed by people who have legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton and some of the policies she has advocated; I share those criticisms.

What is distressing to me is that I see little evidence of that person in the public narratives about Hillary Clinton. Not everyone has the time nor the desire to deep-dive into documents the way that I have. If I hadn’t had a professional reason to do so, I may not have done it myself.

I may have—and did, before I was obliged otherwise—relied on what I learned about Hillary Clinton from the media.

Which, as it turns out, is deeply corrupted by pervasive misogyny.

The subtle misogyny of double-standards that mean she can’t win (even when she does), and the overt misogyny of turning her into a monster, a gross caricature of a ruthlessly ambitious villain who will stop at nothing in her voracious quest for ever more power.

This is a view held, and promulgated, by people who have a vested interest in stopping Hillary Clinton, or anyone who espouses even the most rudimentary progressive agenda. People who have long been watchers of and/or participants in the political process, who are old enough and sophisticated enough to know better.

It is also a view held by a startlingly large number of younger people, whose misperceptions are somewhat understandable, given that the ubiquitous campaign of misogyny-based dehumanization of Hillary Clinton has been around longer than they have been alive.

Many observations have been made about the fact that Bernie Sanders polls significantly better than Clinton among young people. (Specifically, young white people.) And I think there are a number of reasons for that, but chief among them is that, as my friend Kate noted, “Twenty-five-year-olds have literally never lived in a time where there weren’t whispers (or nationally televised shouts) about Hillary Clinton’s evil schemes.”

Young people, and people of any age who are newer participants in the political process, are coming to politics at a time when literally decades of demonstrably unfounded smears against Hillary Clinton—or “The Clintons”—have become cemented as historical fact.

I am old enough, and have been an engaged political nerd long enough, to remember Rush Limbaugh’s 1990’s TV show, back when he was busily coining misogynist slurs like “feminazi.” And now I see left-leaning Clinton opponents using those phrases, and invoking the unsubstantiable lore about her aggressive dishonesty and villainy invented by Limbaugh and his cohorts, as though they are something other than the fever dreams of intractably misogynist dirtbags with a nefarious agenda.


It has taken me years to find the real Hillary Clinton behind a brick wall of impenetrable misogyny.

And this is the reality with which we all need to reckon: A brick wall is infinitely more difficult to shatter than a glass ceiling.

I have said this before and I daresay I will be obliged to say it again: I have not been a reflexive defender (or supporter) of Hillary Clinton the politician. I have made criticisms of her campaigning and her policy. I expect to continue to make them, because I have significant points of disagreement with some of her positions and because she makes mistakes.

I have, however, I will openly admit, become a reflexive defender (and supporter) of Hillary Clinton the person. Certainly, it is partly out of self-interest, because I am myself demeaned and caricatured by misogyny, and because I want to see more female representation in politics and don’t want enormous hurdles standing in their way.

But mostly it is because it profoundly grieves me to see the way she is treated.

It hurts my heart—and it angers me—to have uncovered a person who cares, if imperfectly, so deeply about other people and observe the many ways in which she has been turned into a monster. It is intolerable.

And I flatly refuse to abide the rank dehumanization of Hillary Clinton in silence.

This is not the first time that a candidate who would otherwise be seen as a reasonable, normal human being turned into a caricature or a demon because of some irrelevant feature; say the color of his skin, perhaps.  What’s even worse is when it happens at the hands of those who would normally be allies.

3 barks and woofs on “Of Brick Walls and Glass Ceilings

  1. The media is not a fan of the Clintons and the Clintons have suffered at its hands….
    On the other hand, it was Hilary at the helm in Libya, she voted for the Iraq War, and until Bernie, was a clear centrist with ties to Wall Street and the banksters..and remain so.. . She’s not for single payer health care, for strong campaign finance reform and she’s a foreign policy hawk. That’s not bubkus working against her, IMHO.
    Bernie is willing to fight for those whom Hillary would, for the most part, leave behind…. if she’s part of the system she won’t fight to equalize it… Why isn’t she talking about reforming social security by lifting the current cap on wages…because that will affect the interests of those who support her? It goes on and on…
    The younger voters understand that the system is rigged against most of us…and becoming more and more rigged as long as money votes…without committed change such as Bernie is working for ….the system will continue to support the wealthy segment of the population.

    • All points that Melissa addresses in her post. The question remains: if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, would you vote for her or stay home?

      • I’ve made my decision and it’s Clinton. Sanders woos with dreams of what should be, she knows what’s possible. In the years he’s been in Congress he’s put forth four (count ’em) bills, three of which were for naming a post office. He seems to deliberately avoid working with others. For me, I don’t give a damn if she gave speeches for banksters when she represented the State of New York or if she pressed for more involvement in the Near East; she has been there deep in the fights in her husband’s administration and Obama’s and her experience speaks volumes. And I believe Bernie can’t win, Hillary can.

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