I know. I KNOW! You hate her so much. You have made that abundantly clear. You hate her so much that you are even willing to vote for an absolute dumpster fire of a person… But have you ever really given any thought to WHY you hate her? It’s fascinating to me. I mean, I get that she is not the most inspiring public speaker. And you’re pissed off about Benghazi and eMails… Even though I guarantee you that 98% of you have no idea whatsoever what you are actually angry about–let alone having any idea about the actual FACTS behind either of those issues. But what is it that REALLY gets under your skin about her?
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about today: Have you ever met a woman who named her daughter after herself? I was listening to the Hamilton soundtrack the other day (as we have done most days for the past two months… Because it is absolutely awesome), and commented to my wife about how Aaron Burr’s wife Theodosia named her daughter Theodosia. The practice of naming a daughter after the mother is common in some cultures around the world, but it almost never happens in the United States… And yet it is perfectly normal for a man to name a son after himself. For a moment try to imagine this scenario: Let’s say you meet someone new. She is dressed for business, and she doesn’t seem super smiley. She gives you a firm handshake, and introduces herself as Trudy. You notice the little girl standing next to her, and you squat down to say hello. “And what is YOUR name, sweatheart?” you ask her, as she shyly hides behind the leg of her mother’s pantsuit. Trudy pats her daughter’s head and says, “This is Trudy.”
Now… I want you to examine the feeling that you would have as this scenario played out. If you’re anything like me, your
natural (I feel like writing “natural” there, but I don’t actually think it’s natural. I think it’s something we are taught) learned response is probably something in the neighborhood of “Who does she think she is?” Now–if you can–ask yourself why you wouldn’t have had the same sort of reaction if you met a man named Brian (wearing a suit and not smiling very much) who just introduced you to his son Brian. Finally, here is the REALLY hard work: That feeling… The one I’m calling “Who does she think she is?” but encapsulates so much more… Does that feeling remind you of the feeling you get in your gut when you see Hillary Clinton? Does it remind you of how you feel when you hear her speak? Or see the way she’s dressed? Or watch her not smile enough in an interview when she’s being asked asinine questions?
I had that same feeling. When Hillary Clinton tried to get universal healthcare passed during Bill’s presidency (and before I was somewhat aware of all of the prejudices inside me… All of the thriving racism and ageism and sexism and all the rest), I can clearly remember thinking “Who does she think she is? Nobody elected her… She needs to know her place!” And the interesting thing is that I don’t think that feeling about Hillary–that sense that someone’s getting a little too big for her britches–is limited to men. Not by a long shot.
This idea–the one that says women are one way, and men are another–is not an idea which is given up without a serious fight. But the “expanding of human consciousness,” that IS something that is a natural process. It is the process of becoming aware of our prejudices… And being brave enough to question them. And as we go through that process, we feel we are wiser and more loving and more honest. Not more *than you* necessarily… Just wiser and more loving and more honest than we were BEFORE. And we want that for you as well, so we try to get people to see things differently… But those conversations rarely go well. Trying to explain how the subtleties of sexism are woven into the very fabric of our nation and culture is very difficult when you’re trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t have the capacity to see it. Some folks don’t yet possess the kinds of self-awareness needed to discover the subtleties and nuance of systemic problems… Especially problems to which they are complicit. To them, it just comes off as accusations of an overt offense. If I speak about the realities of sexism in the way our nation treats Hillary Clinton as a candidate, many of you hear me accusing you of hating women. “Are you telling me I hate women?!? I LOVE women! Don’t you DARE tell me I hate women… MY MOMMA WAS A WOMAN!!!”
This fragile, defensive, angry reaction to the truth that the world is more complex than you thought it was… This is one of the main things that slows down people “getting it.” Being told that there is something you “don’t get” is an offensive process. In the past, this process was sped along by the introduction of facts… Fact that were many times brought to us through journalism and science. But in an attempt to slow down the natural process of people “getting it,” people attempt to discredit journalism and even science as biased and false. For example, if you heard that unarmed black people are five times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white people, you might be nudged toward accepting that systemic racism is a problem within our police force. But if you can simply reject the data as being biased or even false, you can safely stay right in your comfortable, ignorant place. The other option is you accept the data as truthful, but you rationalize that it is truthful “for a reason.” “Yeah, unarmed black folks get killed more often by police, but it’s because they should have just complied. Or because they try to run. Or because their parents should teach them better. Or because they just naturally get in more trouble. Or because they’re just worse…” And this is the beating heart of white supremacy.
Another belief that slows down the progress of human consciousness is the thought that “We’re past that already.” This is the sort of belief that thinks racism is over because we elected a black president. If you believe the lie that a disease has been cured, you’re going to work a lot less hard to cure that disease. And if Hillary Clinton gets elected president, sexism is not just going to magically disappear either… In fact, if you look at what has happened since Barack Obama has been elected, the push back against the discomfort of change will likely make things worse for a while. Oprah being really rich disproves neither racism nor sexism. Did you know that it hasn’t even been 100 years since women have been allowed to VOTE?!? There are a lot of people walking around who are older than a woman’s right to vote. Women weren’t allowed to compete in the Olympic Marathon until 1984… Too fragile. And the ban on women serving in combat in the U.S. military was not lifted until 2013… You really don’t think that Hillary Clinton’s vagina is a significant part of the reason you are so triggered by her candidacy?
Please take a moment to read this post by Humans Of New York…
Some eMails were recently leaked between Colin Powell and a very wealthy republican donor. Powell calls Trump a “national disgrace” and an “international pariah.” In those eMails, he also had some things to say about Hillary Clinton. He says that “although she is a friend,” he was critical of her age, her greed, and her “unbridled ambition.” Think about that for a moment. When–WHEN?!?–do we criticize powerful and wealthy men for their AMBITION? In men, ambition is a virtue… Why does it suddenly turn into a vice when the ambitious person has a vagina? Trump is 70 (two years older than Clinton). He wears his greed and ambition around like a medal… And yet, people hate Hillary Clinton because they believe she “just wants more power.” Imagine–if you can–the possibility that Hillary Clinton has looked around and thought, “You know what? I think I’m the best person for this job.” The audacity, right?!? How DARE she? WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?
Or imagine the outrage if Hillary Clinton was on her third marriage, and this time she married a model who was 24 years younger than her… What is it that allows you to overlook that sort of action in a 70 year old spray-tanned man, but if you see it exhibited by a woman, it enrages you? A friend of a friend said, “America is way more sexist than it is racist… And it is TOTALLY racist.” I believe this is true… And not just because women weren’t “given” the right to vote until 50 YEARS after that right was “given” to black men. I believe it’s true because this election bears it out at every turn. We have an election between a very experienced and intelligent woman, and a man who is easily the most unqualified, offensive, and aggressively dangerous candidate in the history of this nation, and yet people are considering voting for him because “there’s just something about Hillary I don’t trust.” Or because you don’t like the sound of her voice. Think about the word “shrill” for a moment… Is that a word reserved for women? Maybe you’re just not used to the sound of a woman’s voice who is in a position of power…
I don’t love everything about her. She’s too hawkish for me. I’m afraid that because of the sense that she isn’t “strong enough,” she could feel pressured into military action that will only make things worse. I don’t like the prison policies for which she is partially responsible. I think she’s too close with Wall Street and big banks. But even though these things are concerning to me, she has my vote. Do you know why? Because she is persuadable. She is competent. She is reasonable. She is a person who listens, and she considers other sides. She is not an ignorant buffoon who–when asked about who he consults on issues of foreign policy–would ever say something like, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things,” and “I speak to a lot of people, but my primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff.”
And in the midst of the deep sexism of this country (and the boys club that is Washington D.C.), she has had to work twice as hard to get to where she is today… All while smiling enough but not too much. All while wearing fashionable clothes that aren’t so fashionable she won’t be taken seriously… Clothes that say “I’m powerful,” but clothes that aren’t too manly–Even though “manly” is a synonym for “powerful.” All while enduring stupid questions and stupid criticisms with a smile on her face, because an angry woman is a turn off to voters. And if–while she is working twice as hard to be taken seriously (even though pneumonia)–she works herself to the point of exhaustion, it won’t be looked at as a sign of how bad ass she is… It will be taken as a sign of her feminine fragility. But she can’t ever let out the giant “SCREW YOU, YOU SEXIST BASTARDS!” that has no doubt been welling up inside her for 40 years because–again–people are freaked right out by angry women.
Well, I’m a white man–I can say it. SCREW YOU, YOU SEXIST BASTARDS! You act like you are upset about eMails… or the Clinton Foundation’s donors… or the four Americans who died in the attack on Benghazi… But what you are really upset about is that the person who wants to be in charge has a vagina.
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