2016 Election Is Spelled M-I-S-O-G-Y-N-Y
I thought the Chicago Cubs would never win a World Series. I wanted it to happen badly, but I just accepted that it wouldn’t. History happens to the Cubs, they don’t get to make it. Generations of disappointment get inherited by stickball fans from the Northside of Chicago. You wear your hat, you rally at games, you stay loyal, but there are few celebrations. One step forward, ten steps back. Every time. Just like how I never believed, even as a young feminist activist, that a woman would be president.
And yet, friends, here we are: The Chicago Cubs won the World Series and we are approaching the historic eve of electing a woman as president.
Somehow it feels further away than ever. There’s gridlock between the parties, these candidates are radically different, and it all says so much about our country. Not about our divisions, but about our similarities. About our institutional and internalized patriarchies. In this, we are united.
How has Donald been allowed to make it this far? He’s not only a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue but also uninformed, inexperienced, and ill-tempered for the job. How is he the candidate for one of our two major parties? How is he allowed to say what he says and act how he acts?
I’ll tell you how: Because he’s up against a woman. Because she doesn’t belong there anyway. Because we hate women so much that we’ll take any man that shows up, even one endorsed by the KKK.
Oh, we don’t hate women? I’m being too sensitive? Typical whiny feminist? Can’t take a joke?
When do we disavow political experience? When the most experienced person is a woman.
When do our political candidates need to be pure and just at every turn of a 30 year career? When a woman shows up.
When does serving the public unflinchingly even when you are at your lowest become a weakness? When a woman serves.
When did expertise on global politics become unnecessary? When it’s the expertise of a woman.
When do email servers dominate the story of a campaign so much that credible child-rape allegations are completely excluded from the narrative? When a woman leads the polls.
When did I realize how deeply entrenched our entire culture is in misogyny? When Hillary Rodham Clinton ran for president.
Because every single one of us women felt that cold-sweat, swallowing instinct — I am prey — when Donald stage-stalked Hillary during the second debate. Whether it was a twitch that went unnoticed or a sickness that lasted for days, we all felt it. Our female nation lost its collective breath for an instant. The simultaneous hair-raising of millions does not exist without misogyny. Misogyny to women is water to fish, and Donald is the hurricane whose awful force we all felt.
If I’m wrong — if we don’t hate women — then we keep them safe from predators, respect their minds, make space for them in leadership, pay them equally, trust their knowledge. If I’m wrong, we do not put up with this shit.
Can you imagine a woman’s refusing to release her tax returns? Or spitting racist vitriol regularly? Or riding horses into the sunset with Putin? Or imagine, just for a moment, a female presidential candidate, wearing an ill-fitting silk dress and a scowl. I’m dead serious. Think about a woman vying for commander-in-chief who is anywhere close to being as ridiculous as Donald.
Like a bull, she walks in. Donatella Trump, six foot, boxy, resting bitch face. She’s got an enormous beehive tinted by hovering mists of spray-tan. Her stance is wide. She doesn’t listen, she interrupts, she gets flustered and emotional. She’s easily lost in political conversations and in regular conversations. She is a scam artist who stiffs small businesses and workers. Multiple men say that she used her tiny hands to grope them. And of course there’s her inexplicable obsession with insulting Steve Harvey.
Please. This woman doesn’t get enough signatures to get on the ballot in her home state. Even if she does make it to the general election (LOL), imagine her campaign against the Yale Law-educated champion of children and health care, the former senator and secretary of state, Henry Clinton. Just pause on that for a moment: Donatella Trump vs. Henry Clinton.
Do not tell me that all is equal. It’s not.
Stop saying that it is. Stop thinking that it is. Stop acting like it is. It’s killing us.
All’s not equal between men and women, and the choice between Hillary and Donald is not between equal evils. I’ve had it up to the glass ceiling with that. To call them “the same” is a statement so drenched in ignorance that I, like a good woman, feel sorry for its speaker.
Wake up to your world. Black lives are taken and justice eludes. Families of immigrants and citizens are being torn apart, without representation. And say it with me now, we hate women. Especially those who refuse to carry the shame of womanhood. Especially those who say, over and over, “no, no, despite all your hard work, I’m still here.”
Look at this. Witness it. Accept it. We do not trust women. We do not trust women with power. We do not trust women to give accurate information about their experiences. We do not trust women to make choices about their bodies. We do not trust women because she might be bleeding out of her wherever.
It’s why women were not believed about the side effects of birth control until men had the same experiences. It’s why Mel Gibson is still directing and Debra Winger stopped acting. It’s why we don’t have family leave or free childcare nationwide. It’s why a long-serving, loyal patriot is in a nailbiter race with a racist reality-TV star. It’s why even I wondered, “Why is a flight attendant doing the pilot’s announcement?,” when the pilot who made the announcement was a woman.
Remember the old riddle: Why can’t the doctor perform surgery on the boy? Because he is her son. I guess it’s not so old. If even this big-league, lifelong, feminist loudmouth assumes that the woman pilot’s voice belongs to a flight attendant, then maybe somewhere in the deepest parts of her she also thinks “commander-in-chief” means “man.” If that’s the case, we all have a lot of work to do.
It took more than two decades to wipe myself clean of patriarchy’s stain on my internal portrait of Hillary Clinton. How could this cleansing possibly have taken so long? How could a blonde, Cubs-loving Chicago native who became a teenage feminist activist in the 90s decide not to like Hillary Clinton? Seriously, how does it happen? It’s like hating myself.
That’s what this structure taught me to do as a consequence of the accident of my womanhood. If my daily conversation with my privilege and gender is insufficient to overcome a socio-cellular oppression, what of folks who do not get hyped by feminist theory? What of empowered women who say, “We don’t need feminism anymore”? What of men who say, “I don’t know . . . I just don’t like her”?
My recognition of the centrality of misogyny in this year’s contest was helped along by Bernie Bros’ bullying me online — for talking about patriarchy in the democratic primary and why we hate Hillary so much (because she is a woman without shame) — and tragicomically reinforced by every statement Donald makes. But recognizing misogyny’s still present deep roots within myself took even longer. It was difficult to acknowledge the reason I had never liked her: Not because of her record or her voice or her husband’s infidelities, but because she is a woman.
How dare she show me I can live without shame? How dare she stand so steadily before a stalker for us all to see? How dare she get up every single time she falls? How dare she take each slow and painstaking footstep to power? One step forward, ten steps back. One step forward, ten steps back. For decades.
It’s as if the patriarchy knew that her time was coming. As if the institution felt her footsteps in its hallways and reacted angrily in its deepest foundations. A woman is coming. A woman is coming. Ready the fire. Ready the stake.
But this time Joan of Arc goes by the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and she survives the burning, walks on water, and saves us all.
Is Hillary Clinton the Dyke President of our feminist art dreams and opponents’ nightmares? No. But a vote for her can change the collective consciousness of generations. A vote for her can relieve a young girl of the pressure of being first. A vote for her can show a young boy that women are trustworthy and powerful. A vote for her can be broken into multiple counter punches — one for the guy who catcalled you on the street, one for the guy who grabbed you on the train, and one for the guy who told you to smile on your way to the polls. A vote for her can honor your grandmother who never saw this day. A vote for her can be a start to the unraveling of your own deepest shame.
A lot of history has happened to women, more this year than most. But now women get to make history instead of bear it. Because, just like the Cubbies, it’s gonna happen. Curses do break. A woman will serve as our president. Tuesday is coming.