My ten-year-old and I had fun watching the primary election returns from New Hampshire. With mounting excitement we refreshed the screen over and over to watch Hillary Clinton’s votes go up and her lead hold steady. Tigger was practically jumping up and down.
“Mom,” she said, “do you think I could become President some day?”
We turned on the TV. PBS, CSPAN, and CNN all had flocks of jowly, pasty-faced men falling all over themselves to explain why the New Hampshire voters ignored the media’s directions. None of them wondered where the media got the idea that they should tell the voters what to do.
Tigger stood next to the TV and mimicked the commentators, pulling down on her cheeks to simulate the jowls. She somberly droned on about messages and the meaning of Clinton’s allegedly tearful speech, copying the pundits so accurately I laughed out loud.
Just now I finally got around to watching a video clip of The Teary Speech. Clinton answered a question about how important the whole business is to her with the slightest quaver in her voice. Not a single tear rolled down her cheek. That’s it?
The hullabaloo clearly demonstrates that Clinton withstands far closer examination than any other candidate. There may be endless discussions about the deliberate-or-not nature of Huckabee’s bookcase cross, but nobody rewinds the tape to examine every flicker of his eyelids.
I’ll tell you this. Anyone who seriously believes that the intense vitriol directed at Clinton is NOT about her gender is seriously deluded. No, she hasn’t got Obama’s charismatic oratorical style, but nor is she actively offensive. Her voice is not shrill, her mannerisms are commonplace. Ideologically speaking, there’s barely a hair’s breadth of difference between Clinton and Obama. Here in the country of enlightenment and tolerance, many just cannot cope with an uppity bitch going after real power.
Back when I was a kid, they fed me that “any kid can grow up to be President” line. But I knew it was a lie. “Any kid” really meant “any boy,” and even that was a lie, because it was really “any white, gentile boy.” (Take note, Michael Bloomberg.)
“Of course you can grow up to be President,” I told Tigger, but she’s no fool. She will watch this election unfold and she will decide whether it’s true or not.
Before anyone else gets all defensive on me, note that I never said that sexism was the only reason why a voter might prefer a candidate other than Hillary Clinton. I did say that sexism is the underlying force behind the extreme antipathy, all out of proportion to anything she says or does, that is directed at her. And sexism is behind the microscopic scrutiny she receives from the media–far more than the male candidates get. And call me a militant radical hairy-legged feminist, but I pointed out that all 43 presidents so far have been males, and I’m just a teeny bit suspicious that that was no demographic accident.