The Cost of Not Listening to Women, on the Women Not Listened To

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

This is (partly) why I'm so exhausted.

On Monday, I published a brief thread on Twitter about the phenomenon of people being inclined to believe everyone else but Hillary Clinton on the subject of Hillary Clinton. (This was after everyone lost their shit about a report she would run again in 2020, which was based on a rumor started by men who no longer work for her and haven't for a long time.) This was the thread in its entirety:
I was never a Hillary Clinton hater, but there was a time I wasn't a huge fan. It's remarkable how dramatically my opinion (and understanding) of her changed once I started listening *to her* instead of relying on news and opinion filtered through other people's opinions of her.

I have never, in the decades I have been closely following and then professionally writing about politics, seen a more vast divide between who a politician actually is and who they are (mis)represented to be than the one Hillary Clinton is obliged to try to navigate every day.

And the thing about that is that I also have never seen a politician whose life and thoughts are so abundantly accessible [as] Hillary Clinton's, from decades of her personal finances being made public to the unrivaled number of policy papers she has published and made available.

It is genuinely extraordinary that people are still so aggressively mistaken about her positions and personality. I can always tell when someone's made the effort to listen to her, even her critics and people who despise her, vs. people who insulate themselves from her own words.

Anyway. I strongly advise, as we enter another presidential campaign, that people make the effort to listen to candidates directly and *read their policy papers*. It's easier to access this stuff than ever w/o any media filter. Go to the source. Form your own opinions.

And if you're going to rely on commenters, trust those who provide you with the raw video and/or transcripts. (Yes, I'm bragging.) Take their (our) word only insofar as it helps you understand what you also see with your own eyes.
Despite the fact I have written sentiments like this countless times over the last decade, this thread went viral. As of this writing, it has been retweeted 6,663 times and liked 36,805 times. It also has over a thousand tweeted responses.

Many of those responses came from people who are super pissed that I would throw my support behind Hillary Clinton running again in 2020.

Blink. Blink.

Readers, you may have noticed that I did not mention, even obliquely, Hillary Clinton running again in 2020. I did mention the 2020 campaign, because I expect that there will be at least one woman running, and possibly more, and, in anticipation of that eventuality, I wanted to urge people not to treat those female candidates like they treated the last one.

You see, despite the endless protestations to the contrary, I don't believe that Hillary Clinton was subjected to mountainous heaps of misogyny because she's Hillary Clinton. I believe — I know — it's because she's a woman.

And every other women will somehow be too imperfect to deserve the robust support of misogynists, too, who cannot be allowed to claim that their universal bias is individualized.

So I did another thread this morning:
It's remarkable how many people have responded to this thread with hostility at my argument for a Hillary 2020 run, despite the fact such advocacy appears nowhere in this thread. A perfect and terrible example of the trouble lots of folks have actually listening to ANY women.

In 14 years of being a woman publicly writing about politics, the amount of shit I've taken based on *things I didn't even say* is colossal.

A lot of it, of course, is people willfully misconstruing what I've written in order to justify throwing abuse at me, because they don't like my politics or don't like me. But a lot of it is also people just reading shit that truly *isn't even there*.

Because one of the symptoms of not truly listening to women is projecting your own shit onto women who speak publicly. In the gaps left by that *not listening*, people fill in their own stuff — often to create a space for the arguments they want to have.

And holy shit does it get tiring being A Generic Avatar for people who want to fight with a progressive feminist woman. I choose my words so thoughtfully and so carefully and so particularly. And then people don't read and/or listen, and yell at me for shit I didn't even say.

Listen to women. I mean *really* listen to them. Actively, patiently, thoughtfully listen to the words women use. This casual carelessness about what women actually say and write underwriting relentless hostility toward us is exhausting.
Immediately, without a trace of irony, came the responses suggesting it must be something other than misogyny. Like, it's just Hillary Clinton. Or like, maybe I'm too stupid to know it's just bots. (As if the same thing hasn't been happening here in comments for 14 years.)

I added one final tweet to my thread: "And now comes the 'splaining and Occam's Big Paisley Tie-ing at me that it must be something other than misogyny, because isn't it always."

Isn't it always.

There is a larger cultural cost to not listening to women, whether it's not listening to women urgently warning about how dangerous a presidential candidate and his party really are, or not listening to women about sexual violence, or not listening to women on any other topic, choosing instead to ignore, disbelieve, marginalize, harass, and gaslight us.

There's also a personal cost to the women who aren't listened to. We are haunted by the things we did say being ignored, and we are tired, so very tired, of being harassed for things we never said.

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