Friday, April 8, 2016
The First Thing I Ever Heard About Hillary Clinton
Well, this election season sure is something else, isn't it? And, yes, I am definitely using 'something else' in the same way your older relatives use to describe someone or something they don't like, agree with, or respect. "You sure are somethin' else, aren't you?"
There's been a lot of hate and vitriol spewing between friends, strangers, enemies, and even the political candidates themselves. I'm used to this, though--I really saw it come to a head during the 2012 Presidential year. But, there's something different about this one, isn't there? There seems to be a lot more in-party fighting than in previous elections--at least, there's a lot more hatred and mudslinging behind it. The 2 party system has always been like this, I suppose--first you have to defeat your same party candidate, before you even begin to worry about the other party's candidate. But among my Facebook friends, support for Bernie Sanders has been pretty consistent. Which is fine: to each his or her own. But, this "support" for Sanders has one problem, in my book: it takes shape via attacks/articles against Hillary Clinton. I have found that the Hillary Clinton supporters are silent--I actually posted an article about this awhile back, and I still wholeheartedly agree with it (you can read it here).
But, there is something even more troubling to me: any time a Hillary Clinton supporter mentions that something is sexist, or could be perceived as sexist, we are told NO. NO NO NO NO NO. That is NOT what it is, absolutely NOT. Nope. Nope! It's not sexist--it's just facts, it's just x, y, or z, but it's NOT SEXIST.
So, I thought I would share the very first thing I ever heard about Hillary Clinton.
Now, I was born in the late eighties, and couldn't vote until 2004. So, when Bill Clinton was first in office I was 7. I didn't know much about politics, the president, congress, the government--or really, life at all.
But the very first thing I heard about Hillary Clinton, the First Lady of the United States was this: she is ugly. Boy, is she ugly.
It was a joke someone in my family said--not really a joke, but a statement. And it is one that I repeated, to other family members, probably to my peers, and it was always met with the same response: snickers and sneers. It is one that I saw repeated in the media for years. Never did anyone say that how she looked didn't matter--that she was smart, tenacious, and powerful. These are things someone would have told me about a man. "He's ugly," would have undoubtedly been met with "It's not his looks that are important--he is a good leader, he is a good ____, a good ____, that's what matters."
And when the news of Bill's scandal broke in 1998, the jokes got worse. Of course she couldn't keep her man. Look at her. And that's the thing, isn't it? We did look at her. When we should have looked anywhere else. And we looked at Monica Lewinsky, too. We looked at her and said, "her? Really?"
I was 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12--and all I heard about Hillary Clinton was how ugly she was, about her perceived failings as a woman.
And now, 20 years later, I'm being told by even liberals that NO. It's NOT SEXIST. Couldn't possibly be.
But... couldn't it?
People don't care about Bernie's hair--that it flies about wildly is endearing. Meanwhile, memes circulate about Hillary Clinton's thighs, and if her hair EVER looked like Bernie's did, with a single strand out of place, she would be crucified.
So, forgive me for not believing that SEXISM has absolutely nothing to do with the things that are said about Hillary (or, perhaps more accurately, the WAY things are said about Hillary), but I guess you and I just grew up in different worlds, because the FIRST thing I heard about Hillary is that she was ugly.
And that this was the first thing I ever learned about our first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has stayed with me. And it should have stayed with you--maybe if it had, you wouldn't be so quick to nullify any claim that even begins to whisper sexism.