During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, I felt as though coming to the defense of Hillary Clinton was my job. I think it is fair to say that the level of attacks- both personal and professional- that were mounted on this woman were of a height and intensity rarely seen. Anybody remember the Hillary Clinton nutcracker doll? You would have thought that after Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the constant attempts to assassinate her character would stop.
No such luck. The newly released and highly publicized book, Game Change by authors Mark Halperin and John Heileman, offers an insider’s look into the real Hillary versus the tightly controlled public image she has cultivated. Basically, the book offers first-hand accounts apparently from a slew of Clinton insiders who “anonymously” dish gossip about how Hillary is basically one manipulative and power-hungry woman.
What is it about a powerful woman that makes both men and women uncomfortable? Why does it make us feel so insecure to see a woman go after and more importantly, get power? Is it our social conditioning getting the best of us, or do we believe we have the right to tear her down?
I mean, there is even a section in this new book where “half a dozen instances when Clinton used the F-word” are recounted. Big deal, Hillary Clinton curses. Get over it! If I were in her high-pressure environment 24/7, I would be cursing, too.
This is just an example of how people love to pick on Hillary. The capitalizing and profiting off of stories about Hillary being some big bitch need to stop. It is like the public cannot get enough of it, and journalists can’t stop feeding it to them.
My point on all of this is: so what? So what if Hillary Clinton is a bitch? So what if she loves power? She is a politician! She is supposed to love it. All this brings to surface the huge double-standard any woman in any position of power has to deal with: If you’re an aggressive and ambitious man, you are applauded and encouraged to go after your goals. If you’re an aggressive and ambitious woman, you are a bitch. The end!
There should be no place for this anymore. We should not tolerate this kind of hypocrisy between the sexes. To quote Tina Fey, there is nothing wrong with being a bitch because “bitches get things done!”
When you think about it, Hillary Clinton has been attacked and punished, all very publicly, for things that people would never make her male counterparts answer for.
When she stood by her husband Bill after his countless affairs and especially post the Lewinsky scandal, people accused her of staying for the sake of creating her own political career. When she brought out her daughter Chelsea Clinton on her campaign trail, a normal protocol for any political campaign, Hillary was accused of “whoring out” her child. And just this past summer when she openly scolded a Kenyan student who asked (maybe mistakenly) about the opinions of Bill Clinton, she was slammed for not being able to control her temper, exposing to people the real monster Hillary supposedly really is.
Can you imagine if a man in politics was repeatedly asked about his wife’s opinions on what is his job? No one would even question a man if he had an emotional outburst like Hillary did. He would have been entitled to it. It is as though this woman is not even allowed the right to be insulted at such a remark! Totally sexist in my opinion.
People need to stop their obsession with picking apart this woman’s personality, and start focusing on her professional accomplishments. Hillary Clinton has one of the most important jobs in the world as the US Secretary of State. And just by running for President, she sent the message to millions of women and girls around the world that there are no limits to the power we can reach for.
Hillary has stipulated over and over again that the most underutilized resource in the world are women and girls. She was one of the first to stipulate that women’s rights were human rights. Clinton has pledged that under her leadership, empowering women and girls is going to be a cornerstone of US foreign policy. Recently, she exposed to the world during her tour of Africa the horror of rape being systematically applied as a weapon of war in the Congo, and pledged millions in funds for their rehabilitation.
But when I think of Hillary Clinton, I think of a trip she made once to my country in the early 1990’s. There was a little known micro-finance bank in Bangladesh called the Grameen Bank, and Clinton made the trip to Dhaka to visit the Bank’s projects which provided the poor, namely poor women, with small loans, allowing many of them access to credit for the first time in their lives. Clinton was amongst the first to introduce the world to now Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, who founded Grameen Bank. I was just a young girl at the time, but I remember coverage of Clinton’s trip vividly.
My point is, give Hillary Clinton a break and stop with the attacks. Stop with the bitching. Give this woman at the very least the minimum level of respect by allowing her one full-term to do her job. If at the end of it you have something to say about her accomplishments or lack there of, go for it. But in the meantime, let us just agree that if we are going to judge this public figure on anything, it should not be her aggressive ambition or her husband’s sex drive.
Let us judge Hillary on one thing and one thing alone: The quality of her work and of her public service.
After all, is that not what we grant without question to men?
*This post of mine was also published on The Huffington Post.