Because Women Are Human

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Yesterday, I wrote this piece: "The Word That Shall Not Be Spoken: Misogyny." It's about my lingering anger and grief that we collectively continue to refuse meaningful conversations about the role misogyny played in the last election.

I wrote: "I need to talk about it, not just because it is an important and necessary conversation to fix what is broken, but also because the insistence that there is no need to talk about it is tacit acceptance. ...And then there is this: I think the lingering grief I feel would be easier if we at least talked about it."

That is all true. And so is this: I want to talk about it because I owe it to Hillary Clinton.

After everything that Clinton gave us in running for president, I feel indebted to her, even though I'm reasonably certain she wouldn't feel the same. She worked and asked for my support and my vote, and she got both.

But my feelings of indebtedness extend beyond the 2016 election. In 1995, I was 21 years old, and my First Lady said this:

"If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all. And among those rights are the right to speak freely, and the right to be heard."

The first part of that is well remembered. The second part, less so.

The right to speak freely, and the right to be heard.

Those, Hillary Clinton told the world, were rights that women have. To speak freely. To be heard. And because she said that radical thing, I owe her to speak, irrespective of whether I will be heard, about the misogyny to which she was subjected during her campaign for the U.S. presidency.

And I owe her reminding people that she, too, is human. Like she pointedly noted all women are.

For that reason, her humanity, I also need to talk about the misogyny during the campaign, because it was directed at her. Because misogyny is systemic, and it is also personal. Because I am angry about the way she was treated, as a human being.

Because misogyny was used to try to dehumanize her, over and over, whether casting her as an emotionless robot or a monster or the devil, or simply by concealing all evidence of her humanity.

I owe it to her for running, and to all the women who worked for her, and to all the women who publicly supported her, at the cost of unfathomable torrents of disgorged misogyny. I owe it thus to myself, as well.

We often talk about oppressions—misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, disablism, fat hatred, etc.—as though they exist only in the abstract; as though they aren't perpetuated by individual people and aren't directed at individual people.

And, in this way, even when misogyny is discussed in the context of the election, it is often done in that sort of framework. That misogyny "played a role." Rarely is anyone willing to say plainly that misogyny was used against Hillary Clinton and her supporters.

I am saying that plainly. I am saying that misogyny was used against Hillary Clinton. Because she is a woman.

And I am saying plainly, like Clinton did so many years ago, that women are human beings. And I am very angry that this human being, who ran for president, was treated like shit on the basis of her womanhood.

I am angry that people targeted her with misogyny.

And when we decline to speak about that fact, we are erasing her humanity. Again.

I just absolutely refuse to do that. And so should you.

image of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail, standing in front of a US flag, smiling
[Photo: Michael Davidson for Hillary for America.]

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