I Am Hillary Clinton
When Senator Obama attempts to diminish legitimate criticism of him by a strong and well respected opponent by saying that she “periodically feels down,” this is not just an unconscionable slur towards Senator Clinton, but it is a reminder to me that if I speak up for myself , I will not be taken seriously. Instead, I will be trivialized, humiliated, defined by a simple and healthy process of my body which has nothing to do with the occasion at hand except that I am a woman, and therefore, what I say should be accorded no merit.
When Senator Obama downplays a disagreement from a political opponent as saying that “the claws come out,” he is actively and carefully choosing language which casts that disagreement as less valid because it comes from Senator Clinton.
When Senator Obama attempts to discredit Senator Clinton by saying “I don’t know which Clinton I’m running against,” while sitting on stage two feet away from Senator Clinton, it is not just a willful mischaracterization of her campaign, but it is a clear statement to me that because I am a woman, my marital status will always define me to some people. No matter how important my job, no matter how well-respected I am, what my husband says will still be more important than what I say, and if I do not have a husband, I will be incomplete.
When Senator Obama derides the eight years of political and diplomatic service First Lady Hillary Clinton gave to this country as “tea parties with ambassadors,” he is personally benefiting from a patriarchal system which only values work done by men, and grants the value of work done by women to men, and because I am not a man, he is saying that whatever work I do, its value belongs to someone else.
When Senator Obama asserts that Clinton voters may vote for him, but his supporters will not support her, this is not just an attack on the candidate I support, but an outright assumption that even in the face of such statements against me, I will hand over my support unquestioningly.
When voters and media outlets willfully ignore this pattern of misogyny in order to characterize the Obama campaign “clean” or “positive,” they are actively asserting that the sexism directed at Senator Clinton, and at all of us who do not live our lives as masculine men in male bodies, is acceptable and should be rewarded. Active hatred directed at me is acceptable and deserving of the most powerful office in the country; perhaps in the world.
When Senator Clinton is accused of “pimping out” her own daughter, because an adult Chelsea Clinton has decided to campaign for her mother, it is not just a vile attack on Senator Clinton, but an active attempt to cheapen the relationship between mothers and daughters. It implies that when I help my mother because I believe in and care about her, she is a madam and I am a whore.
When Senator Clinton is criticized as “negative,” or “ambitious,” or any of the other traits necessarily shared by all politicians, it is a reminder that should I ever achieve success, the qualities necessary for that success will be used to discredit me.
When Senator Clinton is singled out for unpopular or difficult positions held by both candidates, it is not only a distortion of the political facts, but it is also an unquestioned acceptance and perpetuation of the cultural maxim that says “a woman must be twice as good to receive half as much credit as a man.” It is a reminder that no matter what I do, I will not be good enough.
When political pundits and bloggers blame or project the shortcomings and hypocrisies of the Obama campaign onto the Clinton campaign, they are not only grossly mischaracterizing the facts of the primary thus far, but they are telling me that I must not only atone for my own sins, but for someone else’s.
When those political inconsistencies which benefit Senator Clinton are denounced constantly as undemocratic, but those political inconsistencies which benefit Senator Obama are praised as unproblematic traditional aspects of our system, it is a reminder to me that because I am a woman, I will be crucified for someone else’s wrongdoing, because when well-liked men make poor choices, we must have a scapegoat, and I am less important and can be sacrificed.
I will not be shamed or frightened by these tactics. I support Senator Clinton. I stand behind her with ferocity and pride.
I am Hillary Clinton.