I have not written about the sexism in these Democratic Primaries in order to protect Hillary Clinton. She looks fairly well equipped to protect herself. I have written about it because sexism hurts all women, all little girls, all old ladies, women everywhere.Because that's how sexism works. Remember the xkcd cartoon?
That's what we've seen over and over and over again during this primary. Not "Wow, this presidential candidate has positions and strategies I really don't like" but "Wow, Hillary Clinton is an unlikable Machiavellian devil with a voice like a buzzsaw who's so manifestly evil that neither she nor her supporters are even real Democrats."
(And, yes, I could link to posts I've written countering all those precise assertions about her; I wish it were hyperbole. And, yes, I acknowledge the argument that none of that has anything to do with Clinton being a woman and naturally it's just a tremendous coincidence that those criticisms neatly fit into historical themes used to marginalize powerful women. Moving on.)
Not that it matters, but Clinton (obviously) wasn't my first choice, and she wasn't my second, and she wasn't even my third, when this primary started eight million years ago. (And what if she had been my first choice? Would it change the veracity of my arguments?) That she wasn't my first choice never had anything to do with why I've written about sexist attacks on her—and it sure as shit never crossed my mind to use it as an excuse to not write about sexist attacks on her.
Curiously, when I've defended Ann Coulter from gendered attacks, no one accuses me of being a closet Ann Coulter fan. They get that I'm making a point that sexism hurts all women, not trying to declare my allegiance to Coulter. But some people do argue that she doesn't deserve my defense, and I've seen the same excuse being used for failing to defend Clinton from misogyny during his primary.
Not only does that justification make me wonder what it would take to earn one's defense if "human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all" doesn't qualify, but it betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of how feminism works. Individual women don't have to earn a feminist's defense from sexist attacks; it is offered because a feminist recognizes how sexism works—against the collective. As Echidne says, it "hurts all women, all little girls, all old ladies, women everywhere."
If you understand how sexism works, and you fail to defend Hillary Clinton, you don't understand how feminism works.
The sexist comments and the racist slurs are bad, because they are being washed, re-clad in Armani, presented back in high society, made to look innocent, and after all this they will be cropping up much more frequently everywhere, aimed at everyone who qualifies to be their victim. THAT's what is bad about them.I defend Hillary Clinton, because I am defending myself. And Mama Shakes. And my sister. And my girlfriends. And all the Shaker women. And women I will never know. And all the men, especially gay men and bi men and trans men and intersex men, who will be demeaned with misogynist slurs, too.
How can I make that any stronger and clearer? It can be any of us women or any person of color or both that will suffer from the new domestication of sexist and racists taunts. Any Of Us.
That's how feminism works.
And I am a feminist.