When men say to me that the presidency has nothing to do with gender I become unglued. The presidency has everything to do with gender.
“Hillary needs to be trashed at every opportunity that presents itself! This bitch must be stopped!”
That rant was posted as a comment to my Facebook post that read:
Vermont only has 626,562 people and is 95.2% white. What makes Bernie Sanders so special? Christ, Alaska had more minorities and [is] bigger.
Why did I write the post? I wanted to say something that is rarely talked about – that the liberalism of Vermont, for many white liberals, can be attributed to the fact that it resembles one of those European duvets you find on beds in nice hotels – white, bland, and oddly comforting.
People hashed it out for a few comments and then my thread turned to that female monolith in a pantsuit – Hillary. That dreaded woman. I’ll get to her later.
The whiteness of Vermont is omnipresent, much like the maleness of the Oval Office. Vermont’s whiteness and the Oval Office’s maleness are hegemonic and they lord over us. It’s a historic touchstone. Without analyzing and just feeling we can almost touch this hegemony and say, “Yes, I have been here and I know this. I know my role. It’s familiar.”
It’s Stockholm Syndrome.
My Facebook post was designed to poke a hole through the idea that Vermont is just oh so special because it’s liberal. What’s so special about a state that’s 95 percent white? What was so special about Levittown? What’s so special about Bernie?
This thread was on fire for 24 hours. Note to the Facebook neophytes: Criticize the great messiahs and you’ll get traction. I dared to question the white elephant in the room – Bernie, newly knighted icon of American socialism who some believe will take this broken country and make it whole. I criticized a political God in the making. And the thread quickly moved towards comparisons between Bernie and Hillary – okay, I inched it along.
“That bitch must be stopped.”
I was paralyzed for a moment, then I relaxed and saw it for it was – the rhetoric of the master. The anthem of the political sports team: junior varsity. Whatever that means.
Bitch! How quickly I have forgotten the stomach churning I felt years ago after hearing curses hurled at women reaching for the Oval Office. A woman was daring to step into that round room with the creamy oval walls. Doesn’t she know the walls are layered with years of testosterone, red ties, back slapping, and golf breaks?
Bitch. The word itself has power; women use it when they hate another woman, girls never want to be one. Men fear marrying one. It’s used regularly to get women out of the presidential race in hopes these females will leave the race shamed and begging, “I’m not a bitch. I’m sorry. Please like me.”
I don’t apologize for ambition.
Why is Hillary so hated among so many? Exactly why should Hillary be stopped? She unnerves some people.
She was the first First Lady to enter the White House with a career as a lawyer – for children’s rights.
But later, in the Senate, GOP leaders admired her.
Lindsey Graham found common ground with her on health care for veterans and solving the problems of American’s manufacturing crisis.
Rick Santorum called her a uniter.
John McCain said she builds alliances across the aisle.
She co-created Vital Voices in 1997 to “promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy goal.”
When men say to me that the presidency has nothing to do with gender I become unglued. We’ve never seen a female president. The presidency has everything to do with gender.
If a woman takes the presidential spot in the Oval Office it will be a symbol of the unraveling of male privilege. The 44 men of the Oval Office symbolize something big and so overreaching we have trouble seeing through it – a wall of male power.
Hegemony has a trickle down effect. I had lunch with a friend and his daughter was doing her homework. She had to create a sentence with the word “government.” She declared that ‘The government is for all boys.’
He looked at me. I looked at him. He made her change the sentence.
The campaign for women’s rights globally is the fight of our time and cannot be ignored. Women in Iraq are kidnapped and enslaved by Isis. They are stripped naked and sold to Isis fighters. Girls are stopped from going to school due to terrorism. And, if elected, a woman will finally have a seat behind the Resolute desk that was given to us by Queen Victoria. That’s a new symbol with an effect we can only predict.
In 2006, Hillary was among Time Magazine’s Top 100 of the year, a list Time put together to highlight “men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming our world.” In the section on “Leaders and Revolutionaries,” Senator Lindsey Graham wrote glowingly of Hillary:
“Some say she cannot be elected President. I say those who underestimate Hillary Clinton do so at their own peril.”
Lindsey must be nervous about his own campaign and whether his admiring words about her character and qualifications will come back to haunt him. But he won’t call her a bitch.
Bitches are dogs.
Women are presidents.
Jennifer Hall Lee is a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. She has spent many years working on Hollywood films, including Ghostbusters 2 in visual effects, and used her free time (when she had it!) making her own films. Her latest film, “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” is being distributed nationally and more public screenings are upcoming! Jennifer was recently named Global Ambassador for the Global Media Monitoring Project. To schedule an interview with Jennifer or book her as a speaker, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.