Regardless of whether you love Hillary Clinton or hate her, the truth is this:
Hillary Clinton has been the standard-bearer of women working the US legal and political system for nearly 40 years. And for nearly 40 years, people have been telling her to sit down and shut up.
While I was trying to write about this without resorting to copious usage of the word f*ck, I came across a FB post about another woman. A woman who, outraged at listening to a male moderator explain scientific theory over the top of the expert who actually held those theories, stood up and demanded he let her speak.
Let her speak.
The FB post resounded with many women, perhaps the same way the continued vilification of Hillary Clinton resounds with me.
It resounds because it’s familiar. It’s a familiarity that starts as a tingle in the back of your throat, a nudge from some deeply rooted memory. And as that seedling of familiarity grows, it becomes something else. Sadness. Anger. Despair. Frustration. Because while not every single woman in the history of womankind recognizes the humiliation implicit in being told to sit down and shut up, a lot of us do.
It happens in ways that are obvious, and in ways that are not so obvious. Blatantly condescending and subtly patronizing. So subtle at times you doubt your own senses.
Did that just happen?
Did that person just imply what I think they did?
We ask other women, am I imagining things here?
And the answer is no, we’re not imagining it, and yes, they said what you thought they said.
Despite the constantly repeated narrative to the contrary, Hillary Clinton is a hero to many women. No, not all women. And yes, plenty of men. But let’s be clear, there are millions of women who still support her. And just like during the primaries and the election season, when the press didn’t bother to seek out comments from those with full-throttle support of Hillary Clinton the candidate, right now they’re not seeking out comment from those who most assuredly do not want to see Hillary Clinton sit down or shut up.
Once again, the voice of millions of Hillary Clinton supporters are being drowned out by those who are talking over us.
Let us speak.
Here is what I have to say: Hillary Clinton’s dogged determination to stay relevant, to stay in the public eye, in the face of her loss, is more important than ever.
Because Clinton is a lighting rod. Donning a cloak of super-human resilience, she has managed to stay upright in her crisp, white pantsuit. She refuses to back down, to go away, and, to the consternation of the mostly male journalists who seem to write about it, to accept sole personal responsibility for whatever they feel needs accepting.
Love her or hate her, she is a woman of historic achievement and historical proportions. A woman who received more votes for president than any white male candidate EVER. Who received 3 million more votes than her opponent. As the first female nominee on a major party ticket she navigated uncharted waters because there was no course for her to follow. She IS the course. She battled racism, sexism, fake news, rumor and smear, and a disinformation campaign waged by a hostile foreign nation. And despite all of that, she lost by a margin of 70,000 votes spread over three states.
Even when she does apologize, it’s not good enough. Newsflash: in terms of Hillary Clinton, it’s never going to be good enough. The woman could die and they’d accuse her of not dying fast or well enough.
So, what does a woman have to do to be good enough? As the viral FB post illustrates, it’s not enough to be an expert in your field. It’s not enough to be overly qualified. It’s not enough to have proved yourself, time and time and time and time and time again, to wait your turn, to be the best person for the job, to be the smartest or the strongest or the most resilient.
It’s never enough.
So no, I will not stay silent when you tell this badass woman to sit down and shut up. Hillary Clinton, and Hillary Clinton alone is solely responsible for the surge in women running for elected positions. Her loss is responsible for the clarion call that went out on the morning of November 9th to women everywhere. No, not all women. And yes, men too. But let me tell you something: This is my playground, and I have never seen a mobilization of women like I am seeing now. There is a storm gathering force, the likes of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime. And Hillary Clinton is responsible for that.
This kick ass woman who has been forging a path as a political woman in the public eye for decades, and has been doing it almost all on her own. She has absorbed body blows that would have felled lesser politicians. At times, she has been felled. And she has picked her pant-suited ass up off the ground and stood up to face the next punch. And here’s the thing–by her continually doing that–still–she allows the next group of women to follow in her wake. Hillary Clinton created the goddamn wake.
She keeps taking the punches for the rest of us. I don’t know how she does it, but in the same breath, it’s not surprising. Women are resilient. They’re crafty when they need to be crafty. They compromise when they need to. Because that is how women have survived people trying to kill them for centuries.
Death in the political sphere is metaphorical. But it’s a killing all the same.
We love failed women. We love when a woman asks us for forgiveness, because it means the power balance is restored. But Hillary Clinton is not asking for forgiveness. And that infuriates some, on both the right and the left.
Not only did this uppity bitch think she could be president, but now she won’t even ask for forgiveness? Who the hell does she think she is?
She is goddamn Hillary Clinton, that’s who. Bad-ass-iest badass on the scene. She is zero fucks left to give Hillary. And to the consternation of some, there are millions of us who are still with her.
Scroll through the comments section on any article demanding she go away. Look at all the comments–no, not all women, and yes, some men–who don’t want Hillary Clinton to go anywhere. Who are still interested in what she has to say.
And no one is asking us anything.
They’re telling us, once again, they know better.
Ah…there’s the familiar sense of being told, in a condescending way, we don’t know what’s best for ourselves. That we must somehow be misguided, fooled, wrong, mistaken.
You’re not imagining it.
Let her speak.
16 Comments Add yours
Right on Sister! I am still upset about our rediculas election results. This country has proven to be so sexist (as well as racist) it sickens me. Hillary is awesome. I don’t know how she does it either, but I am forever grateful for her leadership and the example she sers for all women.
I am tired of defending my support for her as if I am somewhat defective. I”ve been following her career since 1992 when she came on the scene as FLOTUS. There have been times she’s disappointed me for sure, but I still whole heartedly believe she was the best person for this job–I believed it in the 2008 primaries, the 2016 primaries and the election. And I still believe it.
But she is out there cutting a path for other women to follow. Maybe some day, we’ll recognize her for the literal trail blazer she is.
The woman in the audience was shaking – with outrage, indignation, whatever it might be called. You write that HRC is a lightening rod. It is my sense that both women are channels that connect the energies of the collective to discharge it in intensely bright ways. The women in the audience is unfamiliar with the experience – she was compelled to strike, and she had, it seems, no choice in the matter. It left her shaken.
I suggest that HRC is used to it, perhaps “insulated” from it, to stretch the analogy. As you say, she is resilient.
I will bear witness to HRC and other women who demand to be heard. After all, I do love a good lightning storm.
Something to harness, but also respect the natural power of. The analogy works in all sorts of great ways. I like the idea of both women being a conduit very much.
So…am I imagining it, or is there a storm brewing?
Beautiful! Harness that energy and use it as a super power!
Ya know, Dina… as for weather forecasting? I so much I want to say yes, the mood is changing, an upset is in the making. I hope so, I really do. But I travel in a fairly small circle and around me, I see business as usual.
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First of all, awesome job writing about this topic “without resorting to copious usage of the word f*ck” – I don’t think I could have done it!
Thank you for writing this and thank you for Speaking Up!
I think that’s the only way we’re ever going to get anywhere. We need to keep speaking, keep talking. And we need people who are willing to shout over the din–and be able to take the beating that inevitably comes with that. Hillary Clinton is one of those people. Kamala Harris is another, I think. Elizabeth Warren. Maxine Waters. They take the heat for the rest of us. But the rest of us need to start getting loud. Real quick.
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Love Hillary, Kamala, Elizabeth, Maxine, Diane Feinstein and Kristin Gillibrand
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Are you familiar with Emily’s List? You might like their website.
I know Emily’s List and what they do, but I’ve never checked our their website. But I am excited to see how many women have expressed interest in running for office since the election in November. WE need more women in office. It’s the only way things are going to change.
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Right you are!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you right back. It’s always good to know you’re not alone. Especially when there are those who take great pains to make you feel that way.
I’m all for letting her speak, but its not helping unite the Democratic Party one bit. Either her or Bernie must go, probably best if they both do. The Democrats need something new. The old isn’t working anymore.
I agree that the Democrats should be focusing on finding new voices, new ideas, fresh blood. However, I also don’t see her interviews as her positioning herself to lead the party, or to be honest, even be part of the party). My concern lay mostly with the fact that we are laying sole responsibility for the situation we are in at her door, which is unfair and in my eyes, untrue. And also that in layering continued blame, we are ignoring just how influential Hillary Clinton has been over the last 30 years. And how much influence she still has with her supporters. And contrary to the current narrative, she does have millions upon millions of supporters. But we very rarely hear that side.
I’ve never been a fan of Bernie Sanders, for numerous reasons. I think some of his ideas are good and worth pushing. I don’t feel like either he or Clinton are the saviors of the DNC. But, I would, at the very least, expect them to be treated fairly and equally in the press. To me (and it’s entirely possible that I’m blinded by support for one and a general dislike for the other) it seems that the candidate who lost the primary is being looked to for guidance while the candidate who won more votes than any white, male candidate in history is being sidelined. Just my two cents. Or possibly four.