May 7, 2008
1,900 views
14 Comments
Misogyny, Guilt, and the Strange Case of Hillary Clinton

SUBMITTED BY XORN SMITH: So I’m nervous enough trying to submit my first Boinkology link and now I’m doubly paranoid because it’s political in nature. Sort of. But after last night’s primaries, maybe that’s appropriate. Either way, here goes.

I have a confession: I feel bad for Hillary Clinton. I was never a huge fan, but I didn’t hate the woman. And, now, there are times I’m actually pulling for her simply because no one else is — except for 47% to 52% of most voting Democrats. Maybe it’s my contrarian nature, but there are times I want her to win just to piss off everyone who despises her — in part because much of the anger directed at her seems so random and often irrational.

I guess what I’m looking for is a coherent explanation as to why, precisely, she is so reviled. And, of course, for an answer to this question I naturally turn to…an old white guy. Stanley Fish of Florida International University penned a an insightful piece on the whole subject of Hillary hating a couple months back.

What I find fascinating and what Fish’s article so eloquently pinpoints is that Hillary is everything to everyone when it comes to hate. She is reviled as a feminist and by feminists. She is decried as the embodiment of all that is evil in Vietnam-era liberalism while at the same time “the Left” considers her to be too conservative.

I personally know Republicans who registered as Democrats just so they could vote against her in primaries, even though the person they were voting for (Obama) is shown in polls to have a better chance of beating John McCain in a general election. I know Obama supporters who say they will vote for McCain or abstain if Clinton is the party’s nominee. In short, Hillary makes people act crazy beyond all proportion.

So my question is this: is it straight up misogyny? Or is it about the peculiarities of Senator Clinton’s character (and that of her husband’s perhaps)? Or is it just a product of the intensely divisive political times we live in? What, if any, role do sex and sexism play in all of this?

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FILED UNDER : , Reader Submitted, Xorn Smith

Comments

  • EnamoredMango says :

    My reasons:

    1: Pandering and insincerity.
    (Do I really need to source this? Read any news feed.)

    2: She is not Obama, who I like a lot.

  • anomie says :

    I think Clinton is sincere. The “crying” (she was SO not crying - not that there’s anything wrong with that) incidence is evidence of that. Of course, a sweeping statement like sincerity is difficult to operationalize. She is sincere in her desire to be president, in her belief that she is the best candidate, and in her belief in the things she is saying.

    In which case, she would not be pandering (I assume this is about the mad crazy stupid oil tax redux idea). She honestly seems to believe in it. That just makes it worse.

    I think her campaign has been run more negatively than Obama’s. So much of her stuff is “Obama sucks” and whatnot.

    Much of what I’ve read (I, too, am too lazy to link), indicates that the root of a lot of the Hilary Hate is rooted in sexism. Key, though, is that it is an implicit, deep-seated sexism that even the people who have fallen to it don’t realize their ideas and thoughts are rooted in sexist beliefs and attitudes. These very people would be sincere in their argument that they are not sexist. (As an aside, this tendency is the same reason most sociologists advocate against the professing of “colorblind” ideologies in regard to race).

    Disclosure: I voted for Obama in the primaries.

  • Richard Blakeley says :

    She’s just a liar, there is nothing misogynistic about it at all in my opinion. It’s the same reason I don’t like Bill Clinton anymore too.

  • withoutscene says :

    I personally find her disingenuous. Perhaps it’s because she seems to try so hard that I associate her with people who try to hard to be nice to me…and those people are typically disingenuous-primarily, but not entirely.

    That could relate to misogyny. She probably DOES have to try harder and she probably FEELS as though she has to. Her attempt to counter-act misogyny may then be to her detriment.

    But it’s more than this, obviously. She’s limited by her gender, as is Obama. Obama has to be softer to avoid being “angry black man” and she has to be both harder and softer so that she can be “man enough” to be president, but not “a cold bitch.” And I think that’s just the surface.

    As a side note, my most current problem with her is the fact that she has jumped on the bandwagon with this “anti-elitism” thing.

  • PIggythewonderdog says :

    Hillary Clinton is Tracy Flick (see “Election” starring Reese Witherspoon).

  • anomie says :

    Haha, I saw the Hillary Clinton is Tracy Flick video; it was awesome. However, I liked Tracy Flick, so that would make me more likely to vote for Clinton.

    And I was already an Obama fan before the anti-elitism stuff from Clinton, but that really sealed it for me. Especially when she shot down economists by implying they knew nothing about the economy.

  • Congogirl says :

    For the first part of the campaign, I supported her explicitly because she is a woman, but in the end this is not enough. And with Obama, we have another “first” anyway. It came down to her views (his are not perfectly in line with mine either though) and the fact that she represents that small group of families that has run this country forever. Change is welcome.

  • withoutscene says :

    Now this to pile on top of the whole “anti-elitism” sentiment:

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2008/05/08/clinton-hard-working-americans-white-americans/

    I guess desperate times call for, well…crap.

  • Garrett says :

    I was raised by Irish women, I don’t have any use for meekness in males or females of the species. That Hillary is bold and blatant in her pursuit of the big brass ring was actually very appealing to me. She got in there, elbow to elbow with the men and fought it out.

    But she lied. Alot. And got caught at it. Alot.

    Coming on the heels of her husband lying alot and getting caught at it, that just switches people who might support her otherwise off.

    The republifucks who rail against her like she’s the antichrist hate her because she’s liberal but they also hate her for being a strong woman. But fuck them and the holes they live in.

    Hillary also has timing against here. I think of it this way. Hillary is Salieri and Obama is Mozart. Salieri was a great musician, in a world without a Mozart he’d be much better known. Mozart was a once in several generations sort of mind. More a force than a person.

    Obama has that spark, that ineffible quality that has inspired millions of new voters to come out and support him. Without him, we’d have had candidate Clinton for nigh 5 months now.

  • The Scoot says :

    Anyone under the age of 38 has had only a Clinton or a Bush in the White house during their adult life.

    I don’t like her because I don’t like political dynasties.

  • Richard Blakeley says :

    XORN SMITH: This was an excellent post. Please remember though that Boinkology is not a news site and you can choose to write about anything that has to do with sex, dating or relationships. And I am looking forward to reading your next post!

  • al oof says :

    for some people, it is simply misogyny. but then there are lots of just plain racists who support her. you know she got only 8% of the black vote in pennsylvania? and she doesn’t care or ask herself why black people are not supporting her or think that this is something she should work on.

    everything she has said and done has implied that she cares more about being president than making america a good place to live. she has been virulent in her campaign against obama, acting as if an obama presidency would be a horrible thing.

    i haven’t liked her since she moved to a fancy town in my home county, just so she could become president. but you know, i figured, hey, her or obama would make totally ok presidents. but the blatantly racist things that she and her husband and her supporters have said is enough to make me fear her nomination and dislike her intensely.

    i suppose racism isn’t the focus of this blog, and my perception could be wrong, but it feels like people are semi-constantly wondering how much misogyny has to do with her unpopularity, but no one is talking about the large number (and it’s a large number - it’s a pretty close race) of people who aren’t supporting obama as possibly being racist.

  • anomie says :

    @al oof: That’s actually a really good point. One of the reasons I don’t support Clinton is because of the racism that has been evident in her campaigning. That and her anti-”elitism”. It would be interesting to see which is the most influential: people not voting for her because of the campaign’s racism, or people not voting for Obama because of their own racism.

    Maybe it’s because I read a lot of race blogs, but I’ve actually heard quite a bit about how racism is influencing this election. Perhaps this needs to hit the mainstream news more.

  • Xorn Smith says :

    I suppose I should start by saying that I’m utterly jaded about politics at this point in my life. Furthermore, despite my comments about Hillary, I’d have absolutely no problem with an Obama presidency. For a while, his campaign really excited me and it did seem like it was RFK all over again. (Well, what I’ve read about RFK.)

    Here’s the thing: I hear a lot of people saying that they don’t like Hillary because she lies a lot and panders. And I guess my question is: who doesn’t? Which of the three major candidates wouldn’t say what they need to or promise the moon to get the presidency at this point?

    John McCain spent his whole political life being his own man and now will shamelessly spend the next five months fellating the conservative “base” because he thinks he needs them. Hillary’s sins have been pretty well covered above. But even Obama — who I agree is the most genuine of the three — isn’t above pandering. I mean, he talks a good game on getting out of Iraq and “ending the war,” but if you read his Foreign Affairs article he basically commits to staying at least 18 months more and maybe longer if the Iraqis show real progress. And I do think, to some extent, he was reluctant to denounce Farrakhan — not because he agrees with him — but because quite simply he wants his vote and the votes of those who support him.

    I guess that’s my problem: everyone says what they need to. Even Obama. Is lying/pandering enough therefore to explain the hatred of Hillary Clinton?

    And I’m not disagreeing with AL OFF’s general points on racism above. I agree that there are people that won’t vote for Obama because of the color of his skin, including people I know. But I do disagree that the Mainstream media has looked closely at the misogyny factor with respect to Clinton. If anything, I think they’re one of the main perpetrators.

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