Not Just Hillary’s Problem

Posted by – May 25, 2008

Marie Cocco’s column, in The Washington Post, about the misogyny expressed in Hillary Clinton-bashing, is quite eye-opening, I think. Not surprising to me, but seeing it laid out starkly in black and white is sobering nonetheless.

17 Comments on Not Just Hillary’s Problem

  1. Veronique says:

    I live in Canada, and even though I am still a US citizen and vote in US presidential elections, I’ve kept only a partial ear on the Democratic nomination proceedings, mostly via the newspaper and Web–not radio or TV. This litany of hate and derision directed at Senator Clinton not because or who she is but simply because she is a woman is more than sobering. Disgusting is a word that comes to my mind more quickly. I’m not surprised that such attitudes exist. I’m surprised that they’re so public and too few seem to care. As Cocco wrote, anyone who showed such a level of racism would quickly be denounced and marginalized. But someone who exhibits that level of sexism and misogyny is simply a political commentator or a comic making a joke.

    I don’t think women should hate men. But why do these male public figures behave so hatefully, and why are so many others silent about it?

  2. Jude says:

    I’m not sure how much of the hatred that’s out there is simple misogyny, and how much is personal. Senator Clinton has carried a carload of baggage with her: stemming from when she was touted as a co-president with her husband, through the healthcare reform initiative, the sex scandals (standing by Bill was seen as evidence of her political aspirations, not love or commitment), and her moving to NY to seek her present seat. Frankly, I’m amazed and impressed how far she has gotten, with all the negative rhetoric that has been pointed at her over nearly two decades. And I have to admit, as someone who pretty much flipped a coin before voting Obama in the primary, she has become less and less likable as the campaign has progressed, simply due to campaign style. She (and her staff) have crossed a lot of lines, for me.

    I guess I wonder how different the campaign would have been had she come to this point via a different route – not as a former first lady, not as Part II of the Clinton dynasty, not as the victim (and suspected complicit partner) of marital infidelity. Not as Public Enemy #1 in the eyes of the dittoheads lo these many years.

    But yeah, a lot of mud slinging and abuse that has been leveled at her comes in a misogynistic form that is not tolerated when it comes to race, religion, etc.

    Then again, maybe the way she rose to power is the only way a woman can in today’s US political arena.

  3. VivaZoya says:

    Uh, I can’t stand her, I’ve always disliked her, and it has nothing to do with her gender.

  4. lizzy says:

    Sorry folks, the same ideals of fair play that we use with Obama have never been used for Clinton. The nut cracker doll is a perfect example, its always OK to mock and degrade an older white woman, ( think Mother in Law Jokes or Ex Wife jokes ) but never OK to do the same to a black man or woman. same double standard as always, now days its not PC to lash out publicly at anyone black, but its still OK to make crude joke about an older white woman running for political office. Misogyny ius alive and well in the USA, I don’t see it changing much any time soon.
    The view from where I sit,
    Lizzy

  5. Catrina says:

    Not to repeat a comment.. But

    “Live by identity politics…. die by identity politics.

    In this case, the underlying causality is simply mysogynistic hatred… utterly disgusting activity for selfish ends. The horrible thing is that this hatred manifested from the Democratic Party itself. The utter shallowness of its leadership is now emergent for all to see.

  6. Golda Meir, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Benazir Bhutto and even (ugh) Margaret Thatcher ended up becoming leaders of their countries despite the bile they had to endure.

    What’s Hillary’s excuse? Let’s face it: not only does she want to have it both ways, she has resorted to changing the rules in mid-game (Michigan and Florida, anyone?). She has had the f’ing gall to consider herself a “co-president,” not to mention carpetbagging her way into Moynihan’s old Senate seat.

    She crossed the line way before her “RFK” remarks. Should she get a pass because of her sex/gender? No.

    And why is hatred of Clinton being interpreted as hatred of all women? Please! That’s more obsolete Second Wave victimhood being expressed.

    I don’t hate Clinton because she is a woman. I hate her because of who she is, and the way she has run her campaign, going back to the one she ran in 2000.

  7. Veronique says:

    I’m trying to be respectful while I disagree, but it’s not easy. Look, I know that a lot of people can’t stand Senator Clinton. I’m not sure why, especially because the dislike or even hatred seem out of proportion to anything she has done or not done (and I agree that she and her campaign are currently off the rails), but I know it’s true.

    So maybe she was more likely to be the target of misogynistic invective than another female candidate might have been. Nonetheless, it’s still misogynistic invective! It’s insulting to Clinton, but specifically with anti-female insults. Whether they’re being used because she’s female or only because she’s detested, the fact is that those particular insults are the ones used. They didn’t just say that she’s an asshat or a power-hungry shyster.

  8. Red says:

    lizzy, i disagree with your assertion that it is somehow more acceptable to hate on a person’s gender than their race.

    see here for a reference: http://angryblackbitch.blogspo.....l#comments

    claiming that obama is muslim is race-baiting. saying that his wife should be lynched is racist. rush limbaugh’s nauseating “barack the magic negro” song was racist. racism has been up and down this campaign. as has sexism.

  9. nmonster says:

    I think that this campaign has proven, to paraphrase Helen in My Husband Betty, that we haven’t quite given up sexism and racism as national past times, have we?

  10. Leah B says:

    “claiming that obama is muslim is race-baiting. saying that his wife should be lynched is racist. rush limbaugh’s nauseating “barack the magic negro” song was racist. racism has been up and down this campaign. as has sexism.”

    And these things are all looked down upon in general as racist, while a lot of the sexist things done pr said about Hillary are given a pass. That’s the difference. Racism and sexism are both there, but sexism is considered acceptable.

  11. Catrina says:

    Without getting in between the discussion… I would just like to get a fact straight.

    The Limbaugh quote in his parody emerged, not from Limbaugh, but from a LA Times, extremely leftist commentator (forgot the name) who was espousing Hillary for President in a column quite a few months ago. In that column he declared that Senator Obama was the “magic Negro” for quilt ridden Democratic white elite liberals. (His comments not mine. Please do not attack this post for merely clarifying facts. That is what was said in his column.)

    Limbaugh admitted to picking up the quote and putting it into a parody to show the racism endemic to the fight for the Democratic nomination. He also wanted to expose the double standard for language that exists between Democrats and Republicans. He claims, the Democratic Party elite can use this kind of language and not be attacked. But if anyone else does, they are savaged. In this case he might have a good point. Using that type of language and attack “is” racist no matter who uses it. However, in this case, Limbaugh is not the perpetrator. It is a columnist for the LA Times, a supporter of Senator Clinton.

  12. Leah B says:

    “He also wanted to expose the double standard for language that exists between Democrats and Republicans. He claims, the Democratic Party elite can use this kind of language and not be attacked. ”

    I dunno, where I come, the only people who could get away with calling blacks negroes are black people. I certainly wouldn’t tolerate it.

    But either way, is it surprising? People are almost always more forgiving to the in-group than to the out-group. It’s all about trust. Black people don’t trust Republicans as much as they do Democrats.

  13. Catrina says:

    Yes, it is an obsolete word. Yet, as a Jurassic boomer, I remember when that word was the “preferred” word when addressing African heritage Americans.

    It is interesting that your follow up comments reflect precisely what Limbaugh declares. Although Limbaugh is far better known, it is interesting that no one in the culture is castigating the LA Times columnist for starting the use of that old word in the first place. (Forgiven because he is hip and cool?) That certainly appears to be a double standard.

    I guess we can never get away from partisanship. But that can be extremely dangerous if the political zeitgeist seeks a broader scope of consensus. The Democratic Party used to be far more broad scoped in its intellectual inclusiveness. Look what happened to Joe Lieberman, a traditional Jewish, working class liberal. He was literally thrown out of the Party. Even if this election cycle is successful, this does not bode well for the future. (Begala is right.)

    Leah dear, your commentary also brings out an extremely insightful point about the convergence of culture and politics perhaps more so than trust. Since the sixties it simply has been hip and cool to be a leftist, not even a “liberal” Democrat. Being anti American, destroying the system is “cool”. It is trendy. But when trendy becomes a basis for policy formation, there is a potential lack of depth that is causal to policy emergence. The question must be asked, is trendy policy good policy?

    In my opinion this also is extremely dangerous. It leaves entire segments of the population disenfranchised precisely because they are not “hip”. Perhaps that population segment is mature enough to realize being part of the “hip and cool” set is not important. The pressures in their lives do not account or allow for it.

    Does this make me sound like a Republican? It shouldn’t. The vast majority of Americans that vote Democratic live lives that are driven by “Republican” values yet, only from habit, vote Democratic. If one is a political junkie like I am, all one needs to do is evaluate the map of the 2004 election. Only big cities and university towns are blue.

    Democrats run the risk of insulating themselves in “elite” areas like New York, LA, San Fran, Washington DC and other areas where “being hip” drives cultural values.

    Once the assumptions of policy and the premise of governance between the two parties were identical. This is now not the case. When political parties disassociate themselves with the mainstream premises of a culture, ultimately they are doomed.

  14. helenboyd says:

    not to disrupt, but the term “magical Negro” was popularized by Spike Lee back in 2001, and the term “negro” is an intentional throwback to more racist times. the term is meant to indicate the way authors use black people as fonts of wisdom – think Driving Miss Daisy.

    what’s funny about this is that i’m sure the LA Times writer was aware of the culturati usage. rush limbaugh, no doubt, was not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro

  15. Catrina says:

    Never caught that cultural nuance! Well thought out. We see the world from limited paradigms. My take on the world negro derives from the 1950-60s not 2001. No doubt Limbaugh did not see that term form Spike Lees standpoint as he is precisely the same age as I am (born 1951).

    Yet, I am still not sure if that unhooks the LA Times columnist due to the context in which he used it, actually a rub against elite white urban liberals.

  16. OK, she’s an asshat. And an assclown, not to mention a power-hungry shyster. I see your point, though, Veronique.

  17. Leah B says:

    “The Democratic Party used to be far more broad scoped in its intellectual inclusiveness. Look what happened to Joe Lieberman, a traditional Jewish, working class liberal.”

    He was thrown out of the party? Is that what they call it these days when the people elect someone else in a primary? How undemocratic. We should be ashamed.

    “Being anti American, destroying the system is ‘cool.'”

    Wasn’t it Grover Norquist who said he wanted government to shrink to the point that he could drown it in the bathtub? “Starve the beast” is STILL the Republican way of governing. There’s a great idea. Let’s elect people to government who hate government.

    The sixties was ages ago, and as much as conservatives look back fondly on those days, liberals have moved beyond that. You keep ragging on the hippies, Catrina. Those no-good America-hating anti-establishment rebels don’t stand a chance.

    “Democrats run the risk of insulating themselves in “elite” areas like New York, LA, San Fran, Washington DC and other areas where “being hip” drives cultural values. ”

    Why can’t Democrats seem to gain traction in places like Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Texas, and Colorado?

    Oh wait. We are. See you in November :P

    PS The “Elite” gambit is played out.

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