We have all been expecting the announcement for some time, but a few days ago, Hillary Clinton made it official that she is once again seeking her party’s nomination for the White House. By the next morning, headlines and editorials were already beginning to lament the inevitable “sexist” attacks that would come from her political opponents.
Of course, it all depends on how you define sexism. You see, there is actual sexism; for example, holding up signs that say things like, “Iron my shirt” or “Make me a sammich”, claiming that a woman is ineligible for a job simply on the basis that she is female or a mother, or referring to women in sexual, misogynistic terms, all of which have no place in civil debate and should be soundly criticized whenever they are found. Then there is perceived sexism, which is much harder to pinpoint, as the list of offenses seems to change by the hour.
Case in point, feminists are now decrying the use of Hillary Clinton’s first name in media, claiming that by referring to her only as Hillary, people are attempting to disrespect her and/or minimize her ability to be taken seriously. There’s just one problem with that claim. Mrs. Clinton, herself, used posters, bumper stickers, and other marketing materials containing only her first name during the 2008 election. At the time, I considered it a decent political strategy, most likely done in an effort to appear more down to earth and approachable. However, that doesn’t seem to matter to some in media and feminist circles. Referring to her by her first name will now be deemed sexist.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. One leader of Hillary Clinton supporters recently wrote an e-mail to a reporter informing her that his volunteers would be monitoring media for “sexist” terms describing Hillary as any of the following: Polarizing, out of touch, ambitious, secretive, calculating, disingenuous, willing to do anything to win, as well as a few others that, until today, I looked at as character flaws well represented in both genders and all races within politics and in general leadership. Granted, he’s just one gentleman leading one group of volunteers, but it is clear where this is headed.
Just as most any criticism of President Obama has been unfairly deemed racist, any unflattering description of Mrs. Clinton will now be called sexist. Sure, it’s completely ludicrous and counterproductive to meaningful debate, but sadly, that appears to be the state of politics today.
Criticism of Mrs. Clinton involving code words isn’t the only thing off limits either. In a recent interview with CNN, Rand Paul was asked if he would treat Hillary differently in order to avoid the appearance of having a problem with women. I found this question quite offensive. Should a man vying for the same job have to put on kid gloves because the person that he is competing with is female? Wouldn’t that be a bit condescending? What does that say about the ability of women to fight on an even playing field, if the men are expected to treat them like a lesser opponent? Are we weak, withering flowers that need protection from the heat of political battle? I don’t think so.
If she’s the right candidate, Clinton should be able to take the fight to any man and go toe to toe without any special treatment. Treating her as anything less than a worthy adversary would be, dare I say it? Sexist.
I have a favor to ask during this race toward the White House. Can we please stick to real issues in this election and not cry racism, sexism, or any other –ism every time someone takes a position on an issue or says something we don’t like?
And while I’m asking for favors from the electorate and the media, can we please focus on the qualifications, job performance, and ideology of the candidates and leave their gender, race, etc. out of the debate and decision process?
We should never elect anyone to any office, much less the highest office in the land for symbolic purposes. Our country needs a leader and not just any leader but one with integrity, honesty, humility, courage, accountability, self-discipline, and sound decision-making skills. Based upon her personal and political track record, I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton is that person but in some circles, that position may just be considered sexist.
Photo credit TheWorldOfHillaryClinton.com