The New York Times is continuing to focus our attention on the charges of sexism that Hillary Clitnon and its supporters have leveled against the media, quoting a leader of one woman group making it clear to America’s misogynists that “We’re certainly not going to take this lying down”.
Now…can anyone imagine the husband of a leading American female political figure winning political office by running on the coattails of his wife? Or is it conceivable that this man could win the support of the public, and especially that of male voters, by exploiting the sympathy he could receive after it was discovered that his wife had cheated on him with a younger man? Mmm. . . I don’t think so. Such a man would probably be ridiculed by men and women alike as a “loser” and a “girlie” man.
No one is really shocked when men who run for political office – especially for the job of the US president who is also the nation’s commander-in-chief – are judged by their leadership qualities that tend to be associated with male attributes: strength; toughness; potency; charisma; ability to play political hardball.
That explains why military figures or football players tend to do well in politics, as opposed to, say, ballet dancers and male models, or why Hillary didn’t protest when a labor union leader introduced her to a crowd as the only candidate in the race who has balls, or when another Southern governor suggested that unlike her opponent, she was not “a sissy”. Indeed, at the center of Clinton’s campaign’s message was the notion that she is tough and aggressive, just like a man; one that was ready to “obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel.
It’s true that during the long campaign, Hillary has been on the receiving end of insults from men and women. One man shouted: “Iron my shirt”; a fashion columnist who happened to be a woman referred to her cleavage and cackle; and one company is selling a product called “Hillary nutcracker”. But male public figures have always been mocked by hostile voters and a cynical press, claiming that they had no hair on their head or too much hair, they were too short or too heavy, too macho or too pretty or too ‘wimpy’.
It goes with the territory of dirty politics. Male and female candidates don’t win brownie points by playing the role of the victim. No one expects that a male politician losing an e
rlection would accuse his opponents and the media of sexism or “anti-manism”. That would sound as either pathetic or ridiculous, or both. So I don’t know whether Hillary should take it lying down. Perhaps she should take it like a man.