Hillary's presumptive nomination has forced me to think a lot about misogyny.
Watching all my social media outlets erupt into celebration over her win today, I felt #ResignedToHillary. I supported Bernie, and I was (
and am) inspired by his broad movement and willingness to demand a more just society. But I was keeping cool. Then I looked at my phone and a close female friend had texted, "I feel as overjoyed as the day Obama was elected." And just like that, all the cooped up anger and disappointment flooded out at her.
Soon after I recounted this conversation to some women I'm close to. They promptly took me to task for it, and I'm better off for it. I left feeling pretty sure of the following: The misogyny in our reactions to Hillary is real, it's wrong and it's an impediment to the Progressive cause.
“The misogyny in our reactions to Hillary is real, it's wrong and it's an impediment to the Progressive cause.”
My unreasonable anger at the comparison to Obama demonstrated it. I recalled the days leading to President Obama's election. In November 2008, I had just turned 18 and had the privilege to vote for the first Black president. I remember feeling electrified leaving the North Carolina polling place. I'd canvassed for months in East Greensboro, the first time as a white person that I'd found reason to be there. The overwhelming energy of voters braving now-infamous North Carolina voting impediments gave me a (naive) West Wing-level of civic pride, and heavily influenced my decision to become a political organizer today.
The moment the results were announced, I drove with my friends, Black and white, in a beat-up volvo to downtown Greensboro. People were literally dancing in the streets. 102.1 JAMZ blasted The Jeffersons theme song, and I (maybe inappropriately in the first person) belted it out along with everyone else. Somehow my own liberation felt closer at hand, and I danced as hard as anyone. We'd done it -- we'd won.
Why am I not celebrating like that today?
Part of my flatness is rooted in the critiques of Hillary that figured into the debates. I'm repelled by the idea of another corporate-sponsored candidate. I support single-payer healthcare, unions, and more. And as a Jewish American I saw something of myself in Bernie.
Furthermore, I'm moved by the fear and disappointment some Black, brown and undocumented folks are expressing regarding a Hillary presidency, and I feel a solidarity with them.
“Challenging the misogyny in our reactions to Hillary is going to be key in holding her accountable to the Progressive agenda the Bernie campaign forced to the forefront.”
But another part of my disappointment and anger -- and it hurts me to reckon with it -- is my own misogyny. Why do I feel so icky when I look at her? Why does my imagination of her private life offend me in a way I never felt about Bill's? Today, I heard a good friend spitefully mutter "and now she gets what she wants," and I can't help recognizing that as an anger at entitlement reserved for women. And worse, I felt some part of myself I really don't like agree with him.
As a white dude I've got to remember my position here. I don't need to be dancing in the streets, but if I can embrace the importance of Obama's victory, I must challenge myself to do the same for Hillary now. It is misogynist to imagine that my liberation is any less tied up with the liberation of women than it is with anyone else.
Challenging the misogyny in our reactions to Hillary is going to be key in holding her accountable to the Progressive agenda the Bernie campaign forced to the forefront.
Like many Progressives, my initial adoration for Obama was soured by some harsh realities of his administration. But imagine critiquing Obama for his extra-judicial killings, deportations and more without recognizing the importance of his election -- however limited. No one could take seriously Progressive arguments made in the shadow of such a racist omission.
So let's start by admitting that something of our reaction to Hillary is indeed colored by misogyny. Let's listen to the women in our lives and not belittle their stake in this. Let's be active in calling each other out for it. And with our partners let's continue the work of bringing a Progressive agenda to life.