[Content Note: Misogyny.]
If I never again had to hear anyone discussing whether Hillary Clinton is likeable, that would be amazing. That would make my whole life.
I loathe listening to people pontificating about Clinton's likeability—with special shimmering gems of contempt for an all-male panel of pundits disgorging totally trenchant nuggets of wisdom about how she could make herself likeable, after taking as read that she isn't.
I hate it for a lot of reasons, starting with the fact that assessing likeability—even when it isn't filtered through a magnificently distortive prism of uninterrogated misogyny—is an entirely subjective endeavor.
But, if I'm honest, the reason I hate it the most, the reason that I feel something hot and electric behind my eyes when I'm obliged to witness another of these likeability debates, is because I know that I am unlikeable.
I don't mean that no one likes me. There are people in my life who like me, and even love me, despite having seen me at my absolute worst. Who know my flaws and failures, who have seen me in moments of pettiness, anger, grief, insecurity, profound and demonstrable vulnerability. And who like me all the same.
What I mean is that, were I held to the same standards as Hillary Clinton, the same unreasonable, impossible, can't-fucking-win standards to which she is held, I would not fare any better than she. I would almost certainly fare worse.
I would be unlikeable.
I would be, by turns, aloof and overfamiliar; prudish and vulgar; too progressive and too conservative. I would be too loud, and my sibilant S-es would be annoying to delicate ears. I would be too wonkish, and yet too naive. Too serious, and yet too silly. My voice would be all wrong, and my tone, and my facial expressions. I would be unfashionable, and have the wrong hair, and be far too fat and ugly to take up space in public view.
I would be catastrophically imperfect. And if I tried to change myself, if I tried to modulate and temperize and adjust to fit the expectations, I would be a phony, too. An opportunist. Untrustworthy. Inauthentic.
Even more unlikeable than I was before.
It wouldn't matter if legions of people liked me. All that would matter is that the people who are given access to the most visible platforms in the country didn't like me. People who get paid to sit around a cheap, shiny table on a cheap, shiny set in a TV studio in some important city, dissecting why I'm unlikeable to fill airtime between rambling speeches filled with objectionable policies delivered by men whose likeability is never in question.
I know this because I watch how Hillary Clinton is treated, and because I already experience these things on an exponentially smaller scale.
I am unlikeable, for reasons I cannot control, to people who think it's more important to be able to like someone than to be able to respect them.
And I am keenly aware how the entire frame functions to diminish women.
Not just the woman who is deemed unlikeable, but the women who do like her. Unlikeable by association.
If our existence is even acknowledged at all.
I don't care that I'm unlikeable. What I care about is that the assessment is used to marginalize me, to marginalize all the unlikeable women in the world. That it is continually wielded against Hillary Clinton like a weapon, to destroy her.
I daresay Hillary Clinton doesn't give a single fuck whether anyone likes her, either. I suspect all she wants is a fair hearing.
She doesn't need people to like her.
But I do.
I am an unlikable woman, and I like Hillary Clinton. A lot.