Sexism is alive and really messing things up
Posted By Sparta Live | October 3, 2016 6:44 am
Democratic Dialog, by Debra Wines
Fifty years ago, many of us envisioned a very different world. The color of your skin, your original nationality, and your sex would no longer be important factors to your success in America. Watching the first presidential debate of this v-e-r-y long political race, brought the message home, loud and clear. Hillary Clinton had to behave, look and speak in a precise manner so she could appeal to the general American public. Donald Trump could look, speak and behave any way he wanted to because, to put it bluntly, he is a (white) man.
Any woman who runs for a political office, on any level, must present herself in a certain way; if she does not, she is likely to lose her political race because her experience, her level of intelligence, common sense, ethics, and work habits are secondary. I know there are women who would have been great leaders, but they didn’t fit the “mold” and would not change their principles.
America is one of the few countries in the world that has never had a female leader. Have you ever asked yourself why? Aren’t American women just as intelligent and politically engaged as the women from other countries? Or could it be that some people still view women as the 1950’s and 1960’s housewives – cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children and making a home for their hard working husbands? What woman, in her right mind, would have a single thought in her head about politics or the workings of any level of government? That’s man stuff.
I am the first to admit, I have not been a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton for president. It was not because of her looks, the clothes she wore or even her attitude. I was bothered by her relationship with Republicans while she was First Lady and while she was Secretary of State. The Republicans have had issues with Hillary when her husband was running for office the first time. She made one offhand remark about how she wasn’t the “stay at home and bake cookies kind of woman,” and you would have thought she confessed to being a Charles Manson follower and a mass murderer. OK, not everyone reacted that way, but enough reporters made a big deal about it and a good many people went nuts. Hillary was a new kind of First Lady; she was a full-time career woman. She was an attorney. She certainly did not fit the “normal” mold of what Americans expected of their First Lady. She was more like Eleanor Roosevelt than Mamie Eisenhower, Pat Nixon, Jackie Kennedy or even Barbara Bush. Hillary saw things that she thought she could change, and she hit the ground running as soon as her husband was inaugurated. Hillary was not demure about the work she wanted to do. She was demanding, hardheaded and hard- working. She “rubbed” people the wrong way, and the Republican leadership was not about to let this “little lady” tell them what to do and how to do it.
Here is the issue, if Hillary had been a man, she probably would have run for office, perhaps against Bill Clinton himself. Maybe she would have won. She did have trouble with some of the leadership in Congress, but the Republicans really seemed to take an abnormal dislike to her and Bill Clinton. I am sure they had their reasons, legitimate or not, but from what I remember living in the D.C. area, at the time, there was always something on the news or in the paper about Bill or Hillary having trouble with the Republican leadership. This is one of the major reasons I really did not want Hillary Clinton to run in 2008 and again this year. She has a history with the Republican leadership, which, at best, was contentious, at worst, is downright hateful. During President Obama’s two terms, the Republicans and their leadership have gone out of their way to make things “difficult” for him and then got angry with him when he used his Constitutional right of Executive Power to get some things done. There are so many judicial appointments sitting in limbo right now, it is negatively affecting our entire legal system, up to and including the Supreme Court. That is not responsible government or governing. That is an excellent example of the Republican leadership and the rest of Congress failing to do their jobs. I have watched, for the past seven and a half years, what happens to the progress of our country when the Congress doesn’t like the legally elected President of the United States.
The Republican leadership has convinced their voters that they are protecting Americans from President Obama becoming a dictator or naming himself King of the United States. All one has to do is understand that our current Constitution has checks and balances in place to prevent that from happening. President Obama, being a Constitutional lawyer and teaching Constitutional law on the university level, has a precise and clear idea of what he can and cannot do. The Republican leadership took up the banner of opposition to Hillary Clinton that was left in a dark corner after Bill left the White House, and they started waving it when she first announced she wanted to run in the 2008 election. They have yet to put it down. They’ve made more copies of that banner, and they are waving it even harder now that their presidential candidate is Donald Trump. He is supposedly a very, very rich, white “businessman,” who has had several bankruptcies. He has cheated the people who work for him and has had more lawsuits filed against him than probably the entire Congress. He has no viable plan for the future of America, except to cut taxes for the very rich and prove once again trickle-down-economics doesn’t work for anyone but the people who are already rich. Yet the Republican leadership has been dragging their feet and holding their noses as they are forced to endorse him, and I wish I could laugh. God forbid, if Trump is elected, will those same people obstruct some of the things Donald Trump says he wants to do, which are NOT allowed by our Constitution? Or will they be bullied into giving Donald Trump whatever he wants, which means our Constitution that every red-blooded American loves could be trashed by Donald Trump’s shenanigans and con-artist tactics.
My fear for Hillary’s presidency was the Republican leadership would do everything they can to obstruct whatever she tries to do, just as they have done with President Obama. Can American stand eight more years of slower growth and in some cases reversal of any progress that has been made over the past 50 years? We have not successfully eliminated sexism or racism. I think we can agree women and minorities have come a long way, but after 50 years of protesting and pushing, we should be looking at a far more balanced land of opportunity for ALL Americans. Women and all minorities are judged on a different set of standards than white men. Hillary must constantly watch the tone of her speech, her mannerisms, how she dresses, her hair, her make-up, if she laughs too loudly, not enough, if she smiles too often and how she smiles. Like every other woman who has pushed the envelope, if Hillary is as demanding as a man, she is referred to in derogatory terms. A woman must constantly be aware of how she looks, how she behaves toward both men and women, she must be careful not to make her male associates feel threatened by her. There is a double standard for women and all minorities, not just in politics, but also in the workplace and every aspect of life.
I do believe Hillary Clinton is very aware of what she is getting herself into if she wins the presidency. She is not my first choice because of the reasons I have listed above. Another reason is I think perhaps she has given enough of her life to this country, and she has been kicked around by so many, I hate to see it happen any more. Then again, I have to admire her drive, her absolute focus on a goal she set for herself. I realized I am just as guilty as others who feel she may not be right for the job because she is a woman, and it is going to be too difficult for her to succeed. I do not want to see her fail.
I have told my daughters, granddaughter, nieces and every female in my life for the past 50 years…”You can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States”. Yet, I have been reluctant to fully endorse Hillary Clinton, partly because I fear the progress of the women’s movement will suffer a major setback if her presidency is viewed as some kind of failure. There is so much turmoil and uncertainty going on throughout the world, and we need someone with diplomatic experience. We do not need someone who is seen as a narcissistic buffoon by the international community.
There isn’t a politician alive who has done a perfect job. Sadly, there are some who are blatantly corrupt; there are those who have had to make deals with the devils they know in order to make something work better for others; some who have made decisions for the “greater good” that we may never know or understand. It is our duty to find and elect the best leaders we can. For some of us, the choices that remain may not have been our first choice, but we must vote for the person who has the guts to keep getting up and fighting back every time she has been knocked down and told she can’t succeed, she can’t win. We need someone who has had to fight for everything she has wanted to achieve and who has learned to accept her disappointments and challenges and turn them into positive experiences.
Hillary Clinton may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but she sure beats the glass of antifreeze the Republican Party is passing off as tasty Gatorade.
FYI – Everyone must be registered to vote by Oct. 11, 2016 in order to vote in the Nov. 8 election. Not only is it important to vote for your choice of president, but you need to cast your vote for our Congressional district representative and the Tennessee House of Representatives for our district. For further information on dates and times for early voting and to see a copy of the ballot, go to: whitecountytn.gov/government/county-departments/election-commission