Hillary Sexism Watch, Part Wev in an Endless Series

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Here is just a real headline in the world: "Iowa Democrats: Flawed Hillary Clinton Our Only Hope."

The Bloomberg article is about a focus group of 10 Iowa Democrats who were "assembled this week in Des Moines by Bloomberg Politics and Washington-based Purple Strategies" to offer their opinions about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Here are some things you will find in that article:
Iowa Democrats are rallying around Hillary Clinton with pragmatic enthusiasm, acknowledging distaste and concern over some of her tactics and ethics while embracing her strengths, experience, and policies heading into the 2016 presidential election.
Despite her perceived flaws, the group's participants indicated that they believed Clinton represents the Democrats' only hope of holding on to the White House.
"She's not perfect," said Charlie, 24, a graphic designer. "She's been in the eye for a long time, in the public's eye, and you're going to have some stuff on her. But she has great policies and she knows how to get stuff done."
Now, let me be abundantly clear: I absolutely think it's crucial to discuss any potential president's strengths and weaknesses. For a decade, I've been arguing in this space that the mainstream political media isn't effective enough at facilitating serious and meaningful conversation about the issues that really matter, focusing on shit like with whom voters would most like to have a beer instead of which candidate will make sure voters can afford beer, and food, and housing, and healthcare.

So I have no objection to examining Hillary Clinton's strengths and weaknesses; evaluating the efficacy and decency of her policies. That's what the media and potential voters should be doing.

But strengths and weaknesses is not the same as "perfection vs. flawed." The entire framing around Clinton is deeply problematic.

Of course she is not a "perfect" candidate. There are no perfect candidates. But here is an article, and it's one of many, that writes about Clinton being "flawed" as if that is somehow unique to her.

What's unique to Clinton is the idea that she could be—or should be—perfect. Her male competitors are not held to that standard. And thus there is no reason to discuss their "flaws," because it's taken as read that they will not be perfect, not be ideologically pure, not be magically capable of being equally and wholly appealing to every potential voter to the left of center.

Again, you don't have to like Hillary Clinton as a candidate even a little bit to have a problem with talking about a female candidate—and only a female candidate—in these terms.

And you don't have to have a very sophisticated grasp of feminism to understand why this is an issue of misogyny: If you understand the very basic feminist tenet that women are held to impossible standards, for which there is no male equivalent, then you understand the dynamic underwriting articles that talk about Hillary Clinton's failure to be perfect.

Which is the same dynamic underwriting the reflexive need so many of us have to start even the most milquetoast endorsement of anything about Hillary Clinton and/or her policies with, "Clinton isn't a perfect candidate, but..."

No shit she isn't. No one is. But it's only Clinton who somehow warrants these incessant caveats about her lack of perfection.

Yes, let us talk about the positions Clinton holds with which we disagree, but let us also do it without the misogynist qualification about how she isn't perfect, thus upholding the profoundly misogynist narrative that women should and can be perfect. That women have to meet impossible standards for which no (white) male Democratic candidate is even expected to reach.

Here is another thing you will find in the linked article:
Al, a teacher who described himself as over 65 without specifying his age, said there is something about Clinton that gives him pause. "It's hard to put my finger on it," he said. "It's just, I don't think we would get along that well." At the same time, he said, "I think she's very smart" and "I admire her. I admire her husband."

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