No, Bob, Hillary Clinton Did Not “Enable a Sexual Predator.” But the Republicans are.

I try to stay out of Facebook fights. They aren’t productive. They don’t change people’s minds. And they are just inflammatory. But yesterday I encountered Bob. Bob saw this screenshot posted, and he got a little pissed:

@ProudReisister really pissed Bob off yesterday.

And here is Bob’s response:

Bob’s response on Facebook (September 17, 2018)

I don’t know Bob, and generally this is the kind of response I just scroll past. Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t feed the trolls. But this one stuck with me. Never mind the fictional “oil field wife who wants to keep her house and feed her kids.” Ok. So would this fictional dignified woman vote Democrat if her husband had another job? Her whole vote hinges on the fear that her husband might lose his job and not be able to take care of her? That was not worthy of a fight yesterday. And his insults about the women he works with being stronger and more worthy than my friend — I can also ignore those. She has tough skin. She knows what she is in for. She is a Progressive who was raised in Wyoming. I can even ignore the condescending infantilization of the phantom women he works with — the saintly women who work so hard, reduced to tired tropes and Mother Theresa images.

But it was these sentences that irked me all day: “Once he was out, did you vote Hillary. Because no woman ever enabled a sexual predator more than Hillary. She not only ‘stood by her man’ but also viciously attacked his accusers.”

This misogynist tripe: I can’t scoot right on past. I am tired of women being blamed for the transgressions of their husbands. And that is precisely what Bob is doing — a tired, sexist trick used over and over again to keep women in their place.

Well, Bob, enough is enough. I have had enough of this bullshit masquerading as respect for women. While you list all of the saintly things that the women you work with do in a day, you show in this one statement that you do not know or understand women and the plight of women in the 20th and 21st centuries. No woman enables their husband to cheat on them. Husbands who are cheaters do so because of their own actions. Their wives are in no way responsible for their actions — unless they are in an open marriage or have some other kind of arrangement.

Hillary Clinton was presented with the worst possible version of the cheating husband scenario — one which women the world over must grapple with every day. And let me clarify here — I’m not addressing cheating by wives because that isn’t what we are talking about here. No whataboutism, please.

Ms. Clinton was married to the President of the United States — until recently, the most powerful person in the world. She had two untenable choices: support her husband who had been unfaithful (again) and preserve the power they had worked for (and let’s be clear — the First Lady works damn hard and does not get paid). Or she could publicly call him out as a philanderer and endanger his presidency. All of this was in an environment where because she had the audacity to do real work for healthcare for the poor in our country — rather than just placidly entertaining and redecorating and posing for photographs like a “proper” First Lady — she was castigated by the right AND the left.

So, like many women, she was faced with a horrible choice — one about the inherent power differential between herself and her husband. Did she stick with him and continue to use her influence to advance her agenda? Or should she throw the whole country into chaos, probably leading to the impeachment and removal of her husband, and the disgrace of their family? And let’s not forget that they had a young daughter, too.

Many, many women stay with philandering men because their lives would degrade too much if they left. They may not have the skills to make it on their own, or perhaps they don’t have the self-worth to know that they deserve different. I assure you that Ms. Clinton has the self-worth to know she deserved different. And she is certainly smart enough to know that she can make it on her own. She chose to sacrifice for her daughter and for her country — in the same way that Jackie Kennedy, Mamie Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martha Washington looked the other way, and it is rumored that many other First Ladies have done the same.

This is the woman’s condition. Hillary Clinton didn’t enable Bill Clinton. She simply made the choice that so many women face when they realize that they are married to men who aren’t faithful. If she left, she would lose more than she would gain.

Men aren’t all that familiar with that callous calculus, because the man who doesn’t come out on top in a divorce is a rarity. If you look at the studies, even the cheaters generally win. Women always lose in a divorce. And Hillary Clinton had more to lose than just about anyone.

I often think of her in contrast with Princess Diana. Everyone knew Prince Charles was having an affair, but Diana stuck it out until she couldn’t. She is sainted for her decisions. Hillary Clinton is vilified. Make no mistake: that is nothing more than a conservative talk-show machine that turned Hillary into the worst thing they could imagine — a shrew.

Yet she and Princess Diana are very, very similar.

However Diana didn’t go to college; she worked as a nursery school attendant until her engagement. Hillary Clinton is a graduate of Wellesley College and Yale Law School. Princess Diana was safe, shy, and she was very beautiful. She was the conservative fantasy of a wife. So she gets a pass (never mind that she didn’t live up to that fantasy). And Hillary gets crucified.

So, Bob, when you write that Hillary “enabled” her husband you are placing blame on one of the victims — the other being Monica Lewinsky. No woman enables their cheating husband. That is simply an attempt to shift the responsibility — a tired and misogynistic tactic.

And let’s be clear: this is also what is happening to Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Like Clinton and Lewinsky, she is being smeared. Her credibility is being questioned. His story keeps changing. And her life is being destroyed — all things she sought to avoid. But blaming the victim is what conservatives do so well — and lets be fair, sometimes liberals do it, too. There are women who lie about being raped. I actually know one. But they are rare — and the extenuating circumstances underpinning their lies generally are extraordinary.

That is not the case here. Professor Ford is credible. And surprisingly Kavanaugh was prepared to immediately smear her when her accusations appeared. If it never happened, how did he know it was coming? So yet again, the victim, someone who has reported multiple times that this event impacted her life negatively for years, is being dragged through the mud.

Where, Bob, is your outrage? Where is your defense of this woman? Where is your anger about her treatment?

When your anger is rooted in sexism, Bob, you aren’t actually defending women. You write, “I work with some of the strongest women. They are self assured, confident and have impeccable morals. Some of them are democrats and voted Hillary, some are Republican and voted trump. Either way, i would never question their integrity or self-respect.” Except you just did. When you claim that Ms. Clinton protected a “sexual predator” — you show just how little you actually think of women. When you support the likes of a man like Brett Kavanaugh or Roy Moore or Donald Trump you show exactly what you think of women — that we are not worthy of your time or consideration. Especially when you head to the ballot box.

Frankly, sir, we are done with that kind of paternalistic bullshit. #MeToo


Angela K. Nickerson is an author and photographer. Order her latest book, The Nice List, a guide and journal for thoughtful Christmas giving. She blogs at MidModernMama.com