Hillary Clinton has a controversial resume for a candidate running on a liberal platform.
She is a privileged creation of capital elitism. She supported the disastrous War in Iraq. She was at the forefront of arms deal trade with human rights oppressor Saudi Arabia. Her undeniably strong links to Wall Street and corporate lobbying are famously catalogued, and the questionable foreign donations to her Clinton Foundation have recently put her under the spotlight.
However, in the last few months, the increasingly blistering sexist attacks perpetrated by the media, US right-wingers and select liberal factions have added a new dimension to this election cycle. Frustrations over Hillary Clinton’s candidacy are being used as justifications to launch misogynistic attacks on her. More specifically, sexist attacks are not only being engineered by the patriarchal machismo of the growing Alt-Right movement. These attacks are also being fired by loyal Bernie Sanders supporters, who have adopted more insidious forms of anti-Hillary hatred.
Clinton is being held to a different standard because of her gender. She has endured years of disturbing sexist comments and attacks in the media which deviate from the standard lines of decency in politics.
Examples of this range from remarks about her appearance, to more degrading terms like ‘Bitch ‘to describe her mannerisms. Cruel remarks about her weight, comments about her marriage, accusations of riding on the coattails of her husband’s fame, questions about her sexuality and her ability to lead a nation, to criticisms about her ‘screaming, angry bitter,’ tone of voice at rallies. Fox News network is a leading anti-Hillary podium, where conservative media figures dedicate their lives to obliterating the Clinton campaign. Ultra-right wing radio host Pete Santilli has revealed his perturbing desire to shoot Hillary Clinton in her vagina. Controversial conservative radio pundit Rush Limbaugh operates segments obsessively dissecting Hillary Clinton’s appearance, by making comments on her ‘cankles’, to her ‘tone of voice’ and most recently, when last week Hillary Clinton had a medical episode at a 9/11 memorial event, which later was revealed to be pneumonia, Limbaugh commented that Hillary Clinton does not work hard enough to fall sick.
Yet, the appalling attacks do not stop here. There are also examples where Clinton falls victim to male privilege.
She is targeted for her past support of the Iraq war, when the famed architects of the Iraq war (George Bush, Tony Blair and Donald Rumsfeld et al) are exonerated from any accountability. She is expected to answer questions on her dealings with Saudi Arms Deals, but the previous Republican and Democratic administrations have not. She is blasted for her links to Wall Street, but the numerous politicians in Congress from both parties who have been pharmaceutical and corporate advocates for decades are not. She is referred to by the US nationalist movement in the US as the ‘Benghazi Butcher’ of four US servicemen in Libya, but the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in the Middle East wars at the hands of male politicians is considered collateral damage by conservatives.
When was the last time, the mainstream media directly questioned President Obama over his authorised drone attacks in Muslim countries that have claimed numerous lives, or his administration’s responsibility in the current Syrian crisis? Here is the theme: Obama is glorified. Clinton is demonised. Obama’s speeches are eulogised as historical. Clinton’s speeches are derided and scrutinised for criticism. The double standards are disconcerting.
Last week, many took to social media to express their outrage over NBC journalist Matt Lauer’s grilling of Hillary Clinton at a Commander-in-Chief Forum. Lauer was relentless in pursuing his quest to interrogate her for seven minutes over her emails, but left Donald Trump unchallenged over his blatant lies regarding his support for the Iraq war.
For the bellicose anti-Hillary crowd, her political apotheosis is a clear threat to them. Hillary Clinton is one of the most experienced and qualified candidates in US politics. From her time as First Lady, to her position in the Obama Administration as US Secretary of State, and now as the first female US Presidential Candidate in 2016.
Recently on the Humans of New York (HONY) website, Hillary Clinton herself recalled an anecdote of her early experience with sexism.
“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women in the room. I was feeling nervous. I was a senior in college. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do. And while we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do.’… One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I'll die.’
She further added, "But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions… I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that.”
In an election where bigotry and xenophobia are commonplace, it should come as no surprise that an environment fostering anti-woman bias is prospering. Hillary Clinton is not perfect, but it is evidential that she has become a victim of gender politics since running as the first ever female Presidential nominee. Sexism in this election cycle is being used to normalise and legitimise a culture of misogynistic attitudes.