The "Odd" Persistence of Substance-Free Sexist Attacks

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

This morning, I read a notably nasty and substance-free attack on Hillary Clinton, other members of her family, and her supporters, written by Will Rahn of CBS News (h/t Shaker Eastsidekate). Its title, "The Odd Persistance of Clinton, Inc," immediately tells us two things: Hillary Clinton cannot exist as her own person, but must be subsumed into her family identity (so we can hold everything that Bill Clinton has ever done against her as well!) and (b) the use of "odd" to further sexist narratives is alive and well.

I don't think I'm being unfair when I say it can be summed up as: "Why won't Hillary go away? And Chelsea had better not start getting any ideas." I mean, how else do you explain an opening like:

The Clintons, America’s foremost would-be presidential dynasty, are apparently sticking around. Chelsea Clinton has new children’s book in the works. It’s called “She Persisted,” a title provided by kid favorite Mitch McConnell.

Yes, they're "sticking around," as opposed to taking up residence in an abandoned fishing village on the coast of Newfoundland with no access to internet, tv, telephones, shortwave radio, or semaphore flags, all in order that people like Will Rahn don't have to deal with occasionally hearing about them. How inconsiderate! And the evidence of their evil "dynastic" ambitions are...Chelsea is writing a children's book. How objectionable! How sinister! How... "odd"!

Chelsea's Twitter followers are discounted (only some of them are "actual human beings,") her age is mentioned (she's "closing in on 40"), and her professional accomplishments downplayed (she's never had "what many would consider a real job") in order to argue that the only thing she's qualified to do is "run for office one day."

Is there a point to this nastiness? I mean, other than to demonstrate once again, how very accomplished a woman has to be to be considered...unqualified. A man with an undergraduate degree from Stanford, two master's degrees (one from Oxford and one from Columbia) and a doctorate (in International Relations from Oxford) might be qualified to do, oh, something. And a man with work experience at an investment firm, NBC News, Columbia and New York University, as well as extensive experience at a major international charity, on many boards, consulting, and oh yes, playing a major role on a presidential campaign, might be said to have real work experience. But, oddly, a woman with that resume (she's also written a book for middle schoolers) has no qualifications, so STAY IN YOUR LANE, Missy!

It's almost as if there's a double standard at work, or something!

But wait, that's just Chelsea! Hillary has also had the absolute temerity to speak in public! She said she wants to "come out of the woods!" Holy Walden Pond, Batman, we can't have that.

Ran informs us that there are two movie projects in the works about Hillary Clinton and complains that "we've been threatened with" a film about the 2016 election as well. In case you happen to be one of those folks who knows that Clinton was judged one of the most honest politicians in America, Rahn reminds you that no, no, this woman is a dirty liar, via snarking on a proposed movie regarding her time in Alaska:

Being Hillary, she’s told a few different versions of the story over the years, which should provide the screenwriter with a little extra room for creative license.

Ah yes, of course! Because she's not actually a robot, and occasionally tells stories the way humans do, with different words and memory lapses and things like that, she's a fucking liar! THANKS FOR REMINDING US!

Rahn is just puzzled, puzzled, that anyone would consider making a film about the woman who has ranked at the top of Gallup's Most Admired Women list a record number of times. It must be because the only people who want to know about her are moneyed elites:

I’m no actuary, but if “Hillary Clinton: Fishmonger” costs very little to make, and everyone on the Upper West Side buys a ticket to see it, maybe it could make a modest profit?

For the record, I'm no inhabitant of the Upper West Side (let alone an actuary, or a " political correspondent and managing director, politics, for CBS News Digital"). But I would watch the fuck out of "Hillary Clinton: Fishmonger."

Rahn just can't imagine why anyone would be interested:

For whatever reason, [enthusiasm for Clinton] persists.

He questions the very existence of Clinton supporters, outside of:

the high-professional class – the urbanites who work in, say, publishing and the movie industry. The ones who can spend a few million on a ghostwriter for Chelsea and an ingénue to play Hillary.

Again for the record: I do not have a million to spare, or even a thousand or a hundred, really (the dog's medical bills kinda wiped that out). But I exist, I like Hillary Clinton, I admire her, I am interested in her, and yes, I care about how she might be portrayed in popular culture. And I am not alone.

We are feminists of all sizes and creeds. We are white people and people of colour. We are cisgender, trans, and genderfluid. We are straight, we are L, we are G, we are B. We are people with disabilities and without. We are poor, middle class, and (yes) some of us are well-off or even wealthy. We are in Georgia and Indiana and Texas and, yep, New York. We are people of all genders, we are HIV positive and negative, we are immigrants and native born, we are so many different things.

We are little girls lighting up when we meet a woman who dared to run for president. We are middle-aged women who have seen this shit too often before, an overqualified woman losing out on a job to a vastly underqualified man. We are older women who have dreamed so long of equality, and who appreciate the fight that Hillary has been in her entire life.

And for all of us: this is not the first time we've seen a man earning a paycheck for publishing a sexist, substance-free screed in which a woman has to work twice as hard to be considered half as good.

It has to be some of the laziest journalism in existence to simply posit that Clinton's supporters just don't exist outside of a few wealthy enclaves, and that you just can't imagine why anyone would want to hear from Hillary, or Chelsea, ever again. How about logging on to the Twitter? How about reading a blog or two, how about getting out of your own bubble and actually talking to someone who would (like me) be pretty stoked for a decent movie about Hillary Clinton's young activist days? We exist, we're here, and we're not invisible.

Perhaps that's it. Perhaps that's why Mr. Rahn is in such a nasty mood. Not only do those old ladies Hillary and Chelsea not know that they need to shut up and disappear, but neither do those who support them and, yes—like them. Liking women is still a radical act.

For "whatever" reason, we persist.

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