The other night over dinner my husband and I were watching Rachel Maddow interview Hillary Clinton by phone. Ms. Clinton’s voice sounded a bit raspy, but she still had energy at the end of what was probably another long day in a series of long days. I wouldn’t wish running for president on my worst enemy.
She’s very smart. She’s incredibly accomplished. She handled being Secretary of State with grace. She has the most relevant experience out of all of the candidates on both sides.
I didn’t vote for her in the primaries eight years ago. I thought that Barack Obama was the better candidate. In those eight years she’s proven to me that she’s ready, and I’m 100% behind her. And it bothers me that with all of her experience and intelligence, so many people hate her.
Maybe it’s because they hate democrats, although I don’t see the same vitriol going in Bernie’s direction. And a lot of it also comes from democrats.
Maybe it’s spillover from the hate they had for her husband.
Maybe it’s a dissatisfaction in how she handled her husband’s cheating.
Maybe it’s the hatred they would have for any woman who can go toe-to-toe with men. This hatred also often comes for women, perhaps dissatisfied with their own positions in life.
Maybe it’s a little of all of it combined.
Take this excerpt from Faiqa Khan, who is roughly my age.
For the female Generation X-ers questing into womanhood, more was learned in the 1990s from Hillary Clinton by examining the manner in which she was treated rather than her direct advisement. She was largely viewed as ambitious and calculating. This perceived nature marked Hillary, and, whether conscious or not, I believe the women of my generation took note of the costs associated with such perception.
I was eighteen when I saw the now largely forgotten 60 Minutes interview regarding Gennifer Flowers—Bill Clinton’s alleged paramour—but it left a distinct impression upon me. My eyes were slowly opening to the realities of womanhood. This moment on 60 Minutes was not much different than the less salacious everyday moments when the women in my life had to excuse or pardon their husbands’ behavior in an effort to preserve the bigger picture. It was a squelching down of justified anger in favor of the greater good. Nonetheless, “standing by her man” was still perceived by many of her detractors as a sign of Hillary’s fervent dedication to her own ambitions.
These perceptions weren’t the province of pundits alone. In a Saturday Night Live spoof of the reality show Cops, police officers arrive at a trailer where a distraught Bill Clinton plays a victimized spouse who refuses to press charges against his rough talking, cigarette smoking, abusive wife: Hillary. In this skit, it became painfully obvious how threatening a strong woman could be, even to the man who occupied one of the most powerful positions in the world. We laughed at this episode, but we also learned from our crone. We could be ambitious, but we must take care not to appear too ambitious.
From ambition to ageism to sexism to pantsuits, these writers and pundits try to get to the heart of why much of the country seems to have such a negative view of such an accomplished woman. If you’ve ever questioned these feelings (especially if they come from your own head), I urge you to Love Her, Love Her Not and try to figure it out.