As I sit down to write this entry, I am too optimistic.
I am too optimistic that it will be read for what it is: a discussion about gender politics in the grand scheme of things, rather than a discussion about specific politics in the upcoming American election.
Now, I have no skin in the game, so to speak, because I am a Canadian who never even travels to the United States, but I’ve been following the American election pretty closely both because it’s historic and fascinating.
In a time when almost half of female politicians are threatened in one horrific form or another, it is difficult to deny how brave Hillary Clinton is for seeking the top office in, arguably, the world.
I was a politician for only a short time and at an extremely low rung on the political ladder and, during that time, I received sexist and degrading comments about my appearance and my character on social media, at the door, and relayed to me through the grapevine. Whilst I’ve never been overtly threatened, I have felt unsafe.
We know that women are held to a higher standard than are men when vying for or holding the same position. It’s a phenomenon that’s been well-documented here, here, here, and here, to give just a few sources.
And in the American election, we have a candidate who many media, military, and business sources have said is the most qualified candidate in (at least) recent history vying for a position against what even more media, military, and business sources have said is not only the least qualified candidate probably ever, but also a danger to that office, the country, and the world.
Now, yes, I understand how elections work, but what I don’t understand – regardless of your feelings about Hillary’s politics (because, remember, that’s not what this entry is about) – is how, rather than legitimately criticizing her politics, so many people will, instead, insult, demean, degrade, and threaten her based on the mere fact that she is a woman.
I know what I dealt with during my short time in politics and I cannot even begin to imagine (beyond what’s been brought to our attention) the venom and vitriol that is directed at Hillary, or how she deals with it (because I maintain that at least some of it always sticks).
That she would put her well-being (in every regard) on the line to serve the people of her country at this level is not only historic, it is incredibly courageous.
Her presidency (because, yes, I am assuming she will win) will not be easy for her, particularly not in terms of how much more venomous and vitriolic the criticism against her will be. I said to a colleague yesterday that I suspect that the misogyny she will encounter will be far worse (in quantity) than the obvious racism that was directed at her predecessor.
Regardless of what you think of Hillary’s politics, if you know anything about women’s experiences in politics, on social media, or just generally, it’s difficult to disagree that putting herself out there in this fashion is extraordinarily brave.