How deep does sexism run in our county and did I fall victim to it when I enthusiastically rooted for Senator Sanders? I wasn’t with Her in the primaries. I was one of many unenthusiastic voters who had hoped for better choices in November. I understand the implications of the infamous server and the emails. I understand the pay-to-play allegations and the host of noise about Hillary Clinton that is either grossly false or highly exaggerated. In the beginning of the post-primary season of this election I echoed the sentiments of many that this was the lesser of two evils; Hillary Clinton or the demagogue Donald Trump. It was a lose-lose either way. She wasn’t my feminist.
Days before the election, after I have taken stock of the rhetoric and the overall anger of those who despise Hillary Clinton, I have come to a conclusion: the hate and vitriol for Hillary Clinton can only stem from a deeply rooted patriarchal system designed to abhor a woman seeking power. I’ve spent many hours studying and writing about the patriarchal system embedded in the works of early women writers. Like Clinton, the women who dared challenge the authority of the male dominated literary world suffered consequences, their work was frivolous or deviant. It was unnatural for a woman to have a room of her own and write or in this case for Hillary Clinton to seek the most powerful office in the world. Just ask Virginia Woolf who wrote about trespassing on the lawns of Oxbridge, no doubt she intended her audience to read Oxford and Cambridge, where her fictional character is accosted for walking on the “turf” reserved for scholars (male writers). Kate Chopin explored the dichotomy of motherhood and writer/artist in her book The Awakening. Her heroine Edna committed suicide because in the 19th century there was no space for a woman to be both a mother (society’s socially constructed role for women) and a writer/artist.
Historically in both film and literature women with power are viewed as cunning, ugly, vicious (just look at the early Disney villains) so it is no surprise that even women tear Hillary Clinton apart. The patriarchal system works in insidious ways, just look at the ways women judge one another. We don’t need overt sexism (although it exists) all we need is a woman casting judgement on another woman about her place in society: she should be at home with her kids, why doesn’t she have kids, she has too many kids, she dresses too provocative, she’s too flirty, she should wear make-up, she is lazy, she isn’t friendly enough, she is too ambitious—-I think you get the point. We live in a world where patriarchy is reinforced by the very gender it suppresses. If Hillary Clinton was Mr. Hillary Clinton perhaps we would not be having this conversation. Hillary Clinton has fought against incredible opposition her whole career. So today ahead of this historic election I proudly write #ImWithHer and all the other brave women who have spent their lives fighting for a place at the table. We don’t want to bake cookies, we want to shatter ceilings.