Today a white left-leaning political comedian posted the following on social media.
Voting for Hillary Clinton was not an act of feminism. Now it’s time to prove your true feminism.
I wasn’t the only woman on his thread to react negatively to his statement. I posted two comments. One was along the lines of
Wow that’s tone deaf
Then I waited a moment, thought about it again, and completely unloaded a rant about feminism, putting up with misogyny, and how liberals are far from immune from white male privilege. I kind of lost my shit and blocked him. I didn’t know this man well but there was something about the paternal quality to his request that set me over the edge. He might believe he has empathy for feminists, but he honestly has no idea what it would be like to put up with sexism EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE. He also doesn’t understand the complexities that gender played in this election.
Voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching this election cycle unfold has been intensely difficult for many women. To act as if Hillary’s gender did not play a role in how she was perceived by the media and the public at large is a complete farce.
To give an example, let’s take both Trump and Hillary at face value. Now imagine them switching genders. We would then have a wealthy, bombastic, outspoken political novice with five children by three different husbands. Her current spouse would be a former model, over two decades younger than her, and a stay-at-home dad.
She’s a self-purported billionaire, born into wealth with a self-aggrandizing ego the size of the moon. She announces her candidacy with an overbearing, profanity laden, extended rant in which she tears apart entire ethnic groups, and repeatedly declares the United States is deeply broken. Over the course of her primary battles, she encourages violence against protesters and stokes the flames of racial tension. She also flings personal insults at her opponents, mocks a disabled person, and gets in late night twitter battles with private and public citizens. She even insults the mother of a dead soldier and a Gold Star family. Any time she is criticized, she reacts in an emotional and dramatic way often resorting to harsh language and personal insults.
The same candidate doesn’t bother to prepare for all three presidential debates, and only keeps her cool for the first 25-30 minutes each time. Instead of discussing her policy specifics she hurls insults at her opponent and moderators. She is caught in lie after lie during interviews, and gets basic facts about US foreign policy completely wrong. This woman even goes so far as to speak admirably about dictators and despots while managing to insult our allies. She never releases her tax returns, despite promises of the contrary, and openly admits that she hasn’t paid federal income tax for the past two decades. She’s caught on video bragging about sexually assaulting much younger men; and audio footage is released in which she admits to walking in on teenaged boys just to get a peek of their naked bodies. Nude photos of her unemployed, formal-model husband are released to the press. In speeches and interviews she declares that she does not seek help or advice from others, and that she is the only person who can solve all of the country’s problems. Then to top it all off, she’s endorsed by the KKK and the Alt-right movement.
If anyone believes for a moment that the female version of Trump would have lasted more than a week in this primary battle they are living in a bastion of male privilege or they’ve wrapped themselves in a blanket of patriarchal delusion. In reality if Trump was a woman, he would not even be considered a viable candidate based on his two divorces, and five children by three different men. That fact alone would have caused the public to turn against him. Even ONE emotional outburst or twitter war would have doomed her candidacy. Women are simply held to a different standard than men.
Watching the fall of Hillary on Tuesday night felt personal. What I saw was a professional and immensely qualified woman get trounced by a boorish, thin-skinned, sexist man-child who had no intellectual curiosity or desire to learn anything new.
Every woman, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal has been made to feel lesser at some point in her life based solely on her gender. We have worked twice as hard, only to have someone reduce us to our looks or break us down into body parts. We’ve sat silently in the room when a man in a position of power makes degrading remarks about our gender. We’ve had to overlook and ignore sexually inappropriate behavior because we didn’t want to lose our jobs or get a bad grade in school. When we have spoken up for ourselves we are labeled as bitchy, shrill, difficult, mannish or worse. We’ve had to walk down the street as strange men hurled insults at us, blocked our paths or even grabbed us simply because we didn’t stop to chat, smile, or make eye contact with them. We’ve consented to sexual acts we didn’t want to do because we realized giving in would be easier than fighting back. We’ve had every boundary pushed and ignored by men who decided we were more object than human being. Many of us have been sexually assaulted, beaten or stalked by men we knew and trusted. We have learned to fear all men in certain situations – to not walk home late at night, to be constantly aware of our surroundings, to not get too drunk, to worry about our drinks getting drugged, to avoid wearing short skirts or low-cut tops, to understand that we could be sexually attacked by a random stranger.
White men in this country have the gift of being neutral. They are judged on their words and actions. Everyone else, in every demographic, is filtered through a lens of gender or ethnicity. Throughout the entire ordeal of the process the public and press measured Hillary by a totally different standard than they did Trump. With all of his talk about the media bias against him, the overbearing white male could say and do anything, while the woman had to carefully watch and monitor her every move. Even then she was criticized for being too inauthentic, robotic, and finely polished. Voters would declare they just didn’t like her, they didn’t know why, but something about a strong and an accomplished woman shook them to their core.
So yes, voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching her lose to an undisciplined, abusive, ignorant, sexist, racist and xenophobic bully hurt me deeply as a woman. I couldn’t help but think of all the times in my own life I’ve been underestimated, torn down, humiliated, picked-apart and ashamed just because I was born female. I could list all of the incidents but this article would become far too long, and every woman I know could also fill several pages with stories of her own.
The smug white progressives can save their advice for how I, or any woman should process this loss. For me Hillary represented all of us, with all of her flaws and shortcomings she was the woman working twice as hard getting half the credit. She won’t be the last woman to run for president, but in many ways she was the sacrificial lamb for the next woman to follow. Maybe by then, our first female president will be judged more on her words and actions, rather than the narrow constraints of what it means to be a woman.
My website www.julietjeske.com
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JulietJeske
Add me on Facebook Juliet Jeske Facebook Fan Page