I know I’m late to the conversation about feminism and Hillary Clinton. I know that the Internet has already eviscerated Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem for their comments about how feminists should feel obligated to vote for Hilary. I have read myriad blog posts written by outraged women and listened to a plethora of interviews with feminist thinkers, all of whom rail against the suggestion that they should vote based on gender rather than issues. So, why am I writing this at all? Hasn’t it all been said, many times over? Perhaps it has, but there’s another reason I didn’t vote for Hillary that I think is more important to my personal feminism than objections I’ve seen on the Internet and in the news. The main reason that I did not vote for Hillary is because I believe she is a creation of the political machine, which is essentially, a creation of the patriarchy.
The thing that saddens me the most about Hillary Clinton is that she has spent her whole life doing everything she needed to do to become the first female president, and in doing so she has lost her humanity. Who is Hillary Clinton as a human, as a woman? I couldn’t tell you because she is a robot created by her quest to be the President of the United States. I can tell you who I think Hillary Clinton used to be, and the narrative I have created for her is what makes her a tragic character in my mind. Obviously this is just conjecture since I have never and will never know Hillary, but given what I do know about her this is what makes the most sense.
Hillary is that girl who always knew she was going to be President. When she was five years old she said to her parents “Mommy, Daddy, I’m going to be President one day,” and they were like, “That’s cute Hillary. Eat your broccoli.” But Hillary wasn’t being cute. She knew she was going to be President someday. Every choice Hillary made growing up was made with this goal in mind. She volunteered for political campaigns. She eventually worked for political campaigns. Maybe in hindsight she worked for the wrong political campaigns, but I truly believe she was doing whatever she had to do in order to get the experience she needed in the political sphere. In 1975 she made the ultimate right move and married a man she believed could be President of the United States, and in the 90’s she played no small role in getting him elected. She inserted herself masterfully in to his Presidency and became a political force to be reckoned with in her own right.
During this whole process of becoming a political powerhouse she had to deal with an incredible amount of misogyny and sexism. She had to endure hours of derision about her outfit choices and her hair, forcing her to make statements like “I like headbands, but it matters what the First Lady looks like.” She had to constantly deal with implications or even outright assertions that she was not qualified to be a politician of high ranking because of her sex. Her response to this sexism and misogyny is where Hillary fails in my eyes. Instead of continuing to be the strong, powerhouse of a woman I believe she could be and standing up for her own opinions whatever they were, she began to adapt herself to what she thought the public wanted. She saw that if she was truly going to achieve her dream and become the first female President, she needed to change herself, and she became willing to be whoever she needed to be to get what she wanted.
Hillary started to say all the “right things”. She started to change her opinions based on the popular opinions of the times. She started to give sound bytes rather than answers to questions. She started to straddle issues so she was never quite on one side. She started to wildly oscillate between being a “bitch”, which is whatever she was called when she acted just like any of her male counterparts, and a “good woman”, which she reminded us she was by constantly talking about her husband and how she listened to his good judgement. She tried to be the strong independent woman and the fifties housewife at the same time, neither of which were authentic or believable. Rather than having her own, distinct personality, Hillary was crafting her personality to appeal to the public and the political machine. Today, she is still playing the same game, but she has added outright lies to her repertoire. Just go to YouTube and search “13 minutes straight of Hillary Clinton lying” and you’ll find a video of her contradictory statements back to back. She says whatever serves her at the time.
Because Hillary has spent her entire life molding herself in to the “perfect female politician”, she believes that she is entitled to the distinction of the first female President. This is, perhaps, the thing I find most annoying. She says it as if it’s a forgone conclusion. To be honest, I can see how it could be in her mind. Hillary has done “all the right things”. She has made “all the right decisions” to lead her to this point in her career and the logical conclusion in a society that claims to be a meritocracy would be that she would be rewarded for her efforts. However, her assumption of entitlement to the reward of the Presidency overlooks the thing that is most important to me as a voter: the motivation for her decisions. I don’t believe that Hillary has made a single decision in her adult life that was driven by anything other than her desire to be President. I don’t think any of her decisions were made without first consulting popular opinion polls. I don’t think any of her decisions were made without the thought of “how will this affect my political career”. I don’t believe that any of Hilary’s decisions have been made with authenticity or integrity. I don’t believe that the woman she shows us on TV is the woman she is at all. I would probably prefer the woman she actually is to the woman she claims to be in the media.
To me, the saddest part about all of this is that it’s not entirely Hillary’s fault. Below the surface of her transformation in to a political robot is the insidious institutional sexism that pervades our political system. In order to gain the same attention as any similarly qualified male politician Hillary had to sell her soul. In order to be taken seriously she had to say whatever anyone wanted to hear. In order to be heard at all she had to get a fashion consultant and a hair stylist. As a woman she didn’t stand a chance as herself because her Self is not worth anything to the larger political system. Hillary Clinton, the robot, is a creation of institutionalized sexism, and she’s so far entrenched in that paradigm that she can’t scrap it without scrapping the political career she’s worked her entire life to build. She’s had to enslave herself to the patriarchy in order to become the first woman President. I don’t want that for my first female President.