Nothing Annoys a Hillary Hater More Than Liking Hillary Does

image of Hillary Clinton in a blue jacket, smiling and clasping her hands together
[Photo: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]

Hillary Clinton, commanding winner of the popular vote who nonetheless lost the presidency, continues to be very popular.

Her book is #1 on Amazon; she's sold "more than 300,000 copies in the combined formats of hardcover, e-book, and audio," and her book's "hardcover sales of 168,000 was the highest opening for any nonfiction release in five years"; her book tour is selling out; she's in demand as a guest on TV, radio, and podcasts; and her appearance on Rachel Maddow's show "was cable's most-watched news broadcast of the week, as well as the No. 1 non-sports show on cable."

Lots of people, millions of us, still like the unlikeable Hillary Clinton.

It was always a damnable and sinister lie that there was "low enthusiasm" for the country's first female nominee from a major party. A useful and ubiquitous lie, but a lie all the same.

It is a lie with which her most devoted haters have a hard time reckoning. She is, after all, the most scrutinized candidate ever to run, and, despite mendacious narratives to the contrary, the most transparent. If her supporters know her as well as any public figure can ever be known, and still like her, then how can she be the monster they accuse her of being?

The haters' rap on Hillary is that her supporters don't really know her — that she is deceitful, inauthentic, a chronic liar, a compulsive concealer of her multitudinous misdeeds, which include everything from accepting speaking fees to cold-blooded murder.

But we know. We know her actual failures, and we know all the invented malefactions that have been attributed to her for four decades. We have been urged to "wake up" and "do some research" on Who Hillary Clinton Really Is, but being a Hillary Clinton supporter means that you can't avoid the legitimate criticisms and wild-ass conspiracy theories about her powerful depravity even if you wanted to.

There isn't a valid concern or fringe-spun demon fantasy about Hillary Clinton that I haven't heard. There isn't a mistake she's made or a policy disagreement I have with her that I haven't long and thoughtfully considered. There isn't a horseshit nightmare narrative about her that can be posed to me which I haven't gathered the facts to dispute.

Which is a problem for her haters. They can't convince me not to like her.

And nothing annoys them more than that. Because it's not enough that they hate her. They want everyone else to hate her, too.

It's easy to imagine that this strange dynamic is unique to Hillary Clinton, but it isn't. It only seems that way because of her unusual prominence.

One of the most basic precepts of a patriarchal culture is that women aren't to be liked. Used, consumed, exploited, but never liked. Never respected. Never admired.

Especially not by other women.

Women who like and respect and admire one another are dangerous. We are socialized to hate each other (and ourselves), to think of ourselves and one another as less than, and to regard each other with suspicion and contempt — competitors for resources and opportunities and affection.

Even most feminist women have to make a habit of liking women, of rewriting that entrainment to reflexively see other women in negative terms, and replacing it with a spirit of sisterhood. A lot of women exceptionalize the women in their lives in the same way men do. My group of female friends having fun at this bar is awesome; that other group of female friends having fun at this bar is a bunch of skanks. That is the way we are all socialized to view women — their individual value determined by proximity and affiliation, rather than merit.

It is an insidious and intractable piece of systemic misogyny, this idea that women are simply unlikeable, as a rule.

And thus it is a radical act to like women.

Especially a woman as hated as Hillary Clinton. To like her is reject the cultural imperative to dislike and mistrust women — and it is a stubborn refusal to give her haters what they want; what they feel they are owed by a culture who promises them hatred of women.

All they're supposed to have to do is point out she's a woman. That is meant to be good enough to convince anyone of her loathsomeness! Instead, she is liked. Widely liked. Respected. Admired. Even losing hasn't dimmed the shimmer of her massive popularity.

They still can't get what they really want — which is for all of us to hate her the way they do.

We're supposed to be the irrational ones, but it's her haters who fixate on us, driving themselves to distraction by obsessively responding to any utterance, any written word, any simple tweet with reflexively disgorged hatred, unable to find contentment as long as there exist in the world people (women, especially) who don't share their low opinion of her.

Nothing provokes more outraged responses than my saying anything positive about Hillary Clinton.

(With the possible exception of saying anything negative about Bernie Sanders.)

There are abundant reasons that I like Hillary Clinton, and all of them more important than annoying the people determined to hate her. But I would be lying if I said the plethoric evidence that the mere act of my liking Hillary Clinton drives her haters utterly bananas doesn't bring me endless amounts of joy. It does.

And so they may harass me, they may insult me, they may even threaten me, but nevertheless, I persist.

I'm a nasty woman like that.

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