What’s a Woman Candidate if People Don’t Lose Their Shit?


I’m not one to talk about presidential candidates in a blog post. It’s just too exhausting to get into the nitty gritty of policy and what I think works, doesn’t work, what’s in my best interest, etc. just to be shouted into the void. So I’m not going to talk about policy or who I really support or any of that in this post. Just a disclaimer.

I know everyone’s been talking about this All Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backlash Against Hillary Clinton by blogger Courtney Enlow. This is the first pro Hillary post circulating among millennials I’ve seen, a realization which I was surprised by because honestly, I feel like no matter who wins the nom, Democrats are in really good hands. But this post has been receiving a lot of backlash from all genders in both more blog posts and just general grape-vine buzz. It seems to me that a lot of Hillary supporters seem to find themselves under scrutiny from other progressive millennials for their support of Hill.

…..Why though? I’ve seen unabashed love for Bernie, even the kind that smears Hillary, shouted from rooftops with no qualms. I’ve also seen quite a bit of lecturing on why all progressive millennials should support Bernie.

I’m not trying to say that progressive millennials shouldn’t support Bernie, but it is each person’s sole decision on what policy and plans to agree with. Just because any voter is more or less radical does not mean they clearly have chosen the “correct” candidate. The whole point of our system is that each person votes for who they think will best respect their interests, and it is not the place of any other person to impose those beliefs on anyone else. Look, I understand that some people feel that the implication has been made that any progressive who doesn’t support Hillary is a sexist. And that’s reasonably infuriating. But the claim that gender doesn’t play a huge role in politics, media coverage, and even unconscious bias among men, women, or any other gender is equally as infuriating.

If a person wants to elect Hillary because they like her policy, good! That’s how this whole voting thing works. If a person wants to elect Hillary solely because they want a woman president, that is also how this whole voting thing works. That isn’t sweeping the “real” issues under the rug. To those people, the fact that we don’t have a woman president is a real issue. Maybe women feel like there are some environments where we aren’t allowed to act like men do, where we are constantly scrutinized, held to different standards, and had our opinions swept aside. Maybe some women feel like we live in environments were we are talked down to, thought of as lesser, and objectified so much that we don’t even notice it anymore. Maybe some women see that all those same limitations are applied to Hillary in everything she does. Maybe those women are sick of it. This view isn’t about policy, but it isn’t wrong.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike Hillary. Just as many as there are to dislike any other candidate, including Bernie. But acknowledging possible bias, even internalized, in the treatment or reception of a political candidate is an important thing to do.  We had to for Obama, and we should now. You don’t know how many posts I have seen claiming “gender’s not an issue,”  or blog posts whose only purpose are to dismantle political opinions word by word. One response to the aforementioned article was titled, “Not everyone who criticizes Hillary Clinton is a sexist.” Like really? Is that claim necessary? Was the the point of the original article? (or was it even actually suggested at all?) It sounds to me more like a melodramatic attempt to devalue the original argument.

This is a big deal because it’s not up to anyone to decide what’s “an issue.” It’s not appropriate when engaging in political debate to decide that an issue someone is talking about “isn’t a factor here.” A lot of people who have been wanting to not only openly support Hillary, but also propose that perhaps some of the reason she is under heightened scrutiny is because of internalized and institutional bias have been written off. And worse, how they’ve been written off is that their sentiments were paraphrased as “if you don’t agree with me, you’re sexist.”

Writing off people who mention this entangled web of Patriarchy as merely being on a sexist witch hunt feels eerily familiar.

It feels the same as calling feminists man-haters.

It feels like another delegitimization of opinion.

This is kind of the phenomenon people are talking about when they say “backlash” Hillary’s receiving.

This is the same backlash that women are receiving for talking about it.

Women (yes, even super-women like Hillary Clinton) experience delegitimization of opinion so often that we don’t even recognize it anymore. Not when we are victims of it, not when we perpetuate it ourselves.

I know this seems all very histrionic but it’s not up to anyone to decide what’s “an issue.” It’s not appropriate when engaging in political debate to decide that an issue someone is talking about “isn’t a factor here.” We exist in a democratic system that only works with invigoration of thought and opinion that comes from debate and disagreement, not disrespect.

You want to talk about politics? Good! You want to talk about why the policy you agree with differs from what I agree with? Great! You want to talk about why you believe the candidate you back is better equipped to be president? By all means! Attempting to dismantle someone’s political opinion because you don’t agree with it is not engaging in political debate. Claiming that an issue that a person is deeming important as not important is not engaging in political debate.

Disagreeing with each other in respectful ways is the ideal system the electoral college was meant to operate under. (Respectful meaning: being willing to see the merit in someone else’s opinion even when you disagree with it. This includes not exaggerating a dissenting opinion to the point of humiliation.) Delegitimizing someone’s political opinions just because you disagree with them doesn’t make you smarter or more full of political acumen than anyone else. It makes you perpetuate the kind of bullshit that people like Courtney Enlow are trying to talk about.


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