As we as a country collectively brace ourselves for the general election, we accept with it the internalized misogyny so commonplace. We accept the upcoming attacks on Hillary Clinton as an inevitable byproduct of women’s excellence.
Last March, headlines emerged lambasting Hillary Clinton for shouting at a Greenpeace organizer, calling the move unprofessional and tactless. But where was this instance of tone-policing observed in male candidates? Amidst Sanders’ wild gesticulations as he harangued the billionaire class this primary election and Trump’s, well, Trump-ness, we yet again assign Clinton the tired old “bossy bitch” standard as we have for decades and throughout generations of women in politics. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony? Probably bossy bitches.
While headlines picked apart her male counterparts’ policies throughout the primary, tabloids chose Hillary’s choice of outfit or hair styling as the ostensibly most relevant or interesting aspect of her campaign. There’s little difference in how Michelle Obama’s been treated for the past eight years, with headlines either praising or claiming her choice of dress despite her successful health initiatives in combating childhood obesity.
I recently spoke to a friend about Hillary’s presumptive nomination. Both of us former Bernie Sanders supporters, we marveled yet again at the nationwide refusal to give a woman credit where it is due. “She’s shattered a glass ceiling so high there’s now a carpet of shards,” my friend said.
As we pick through the fragments of glass of that shattered ceiling and speculate about the upcoming campaign, the sad truth exists that before Clinton’s campaign has really even begun, there is the collective undermining of the accomplishments that have gotten her to this point. She’s redeemed her woman’s card for little more than a halfhearted pat on the back.
So what can we as women following and participating actively in this election do to reject this narrative? Reclaim it. We must hold our woman’s cards proudly and be like the many bitches that came before us; bitches who fought for the women’s voice to be heard in government, who fought to make the prospect of a female holding office a reality. While we have come a long way, we have a long way to go yet. But we won’t get there easily, and one thing is certain: the blows Hillary Clinton was dealt this primary season will soon seem like child’s play by comparison. She has a long, difficult road ahead of her. But from one bitch to another, I’m rooting for her.