Hillary Clinton: Valid criticism -V- Sexism

There are two type of people that criticize Hillary Clinton:

1- The “lock her up!”, “she’s the devil!”, “a woman can’t be a president!” crowd, and

2- The “I’m concerned with her foreign affairs record”, “I’m not happy with her ties to corporations”, “She cannot fight for environment while taking donations from fossil groups,” crowd.

I belong to the latter. But unfortunately that means that anytime I criticize Hillary Clinton people think I’m part of group 1. Or, even worse, that I support Donald Trump (*gags*).

We are living in a political environment where any criticism of Hillary Clinton is perceived as either an endorsement of Donald Trump, or an example of the sexism women are forced to deal with before they succeed.

The #imwithher crowd may argue both group 1 and group 2 are the same, except that group 2 disguises their sexism with language that sounds more political and avoids any mention of her gender. But underneath sexist unconscious bias are still at work, informing our perception of everything Hillary Clinton says or does.

Let me get one thing out of the way first:

Every woman who criticizes the sexism Hillary Clinton is subjected to is right to do so. They’re not making it up and they’re not exaggerating. It has all been as horrible as they make it sound. And the fact that Hillary’s survived it is a testament to her mental strength.

Hillary Clinton has put up with an overload of sexism, just because she dared to be an intelligent and ambitious woman determined to make it to the White House. That should’ve never happened. And it will never be OK.

History will remember her as an example of the challenges women had to overcome to succeed in politics. I’m sure of it.

But the moment anyone pretends sexism is all there is to the Hillary Clinton experience… that’s where we step into dangerous territory.

The day Julia Gillard, the first female Prime Minister of Australia, was ousted from her role, she made the following remark:

“I’ve been a little bit bemused by those colleagues in the newspapers who have admitted that I have suffered more pressure as a result of my gender than other prime ministers in the past but then concluded that it had zero effect on my political position or the political position of the Labor Party. It doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing, it explains some things. And it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey.”

I am convinced that the fact that Hillary Clinton is a woman explains some of the criticism she has received. But not all of it.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who don’t care about what Hillary Clinton wears, if she smiles, looks robotic etc.

People like Naomi Klein, who have discussed Clinton’s ties to the fossil-fuel industry.

Glenn Greenwald’s discussion of Clinton’s support of brutal and tyrannical governments.

Rania Khalek’s interviews with Neo-conservatives that support Hillary Clinton.

Michelle Alexander’s examination of The Clinton’s role in welfare reform and the effect it had in the African-American community.

This is valid criticism of a person running to be the president of the United States. Whether that person happens to be a woman, or not. It has nothing to do with her gender, but gets dismissed or branded “sexist” before any real discussion takes place.

For my part, as an immigrant and woman of colour (born in a third world country) I find myself incapable of supporting Hillary Clinton for all the reasons outlined above, and because I don’t believe in “trickle-down” anything.

It is important for women to have equal access to political positions. But I don’t believe that having a woman at the top will lead to political power “trickling-down” to the rest of us. There have already been 52 female heads of government in the world. And yet women (according to the UN) women still hold only about 22% of political positions worldwide.

Having a female leader is important, but it’s not enough. And so far it has changed very little.

I agree with Clinton’s positions on abortion and same sex marriage, but her horrific foreign policy record is enough for any woman living in a third world country to be frightened of her presidency. Some may say Hillary is a “champion of women’s rights”. To that I answer: which women exactly…?

I understand there are people who passionately hate Hillary Clinton and refuse to give her credit for anything she has accomplished in her political career. People who fear her like she was the devil incarnate just because she‘s a woman trying to replace a man. And these people are loud and unrelenting. They will not sit down and will not stay quiet about how much they despise every little thing about Hillary Clinton.

They overtake every conversation with name calling (witch!) and absurd accusations (she’s the devil!). They’re ridiculous, irritating and a clear example of the rampant sexism that’s still alive and well in western society.

But as horrible as it must have been for her, it’s also the best thing that ever happened to her political career. Why? Because now she (and her team) can effortlessly brush off all criticism as sexism. The hatred of Hillary Clinton has reached such heights it’s not hard to brand it all as horrible and absurd, and sweep all valid criticism under the rug, let it die down with all that other sexist noise.

Of course, as things currently stand, it’s either Hillary Clinton OR Donald Trump. And anything is better than a man that is the resurrection of Hitler.

Any valid criticism of Hillary Clinton is not an endorsement of Donald Trump, nor is it an attempt to encourage the Hillary haters to hate more. It is what needs to happen during an election. Critical assessment of candidates is necessary for people to know who they’re voting for.

Especially, when they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. And they need to vote for Hillary Clinton to stop Donald Trump.

The more you know about the downsides of a Hillary Clinton presidency, the more you’ll know what you’ll need to fight for the next four years.