One of the most honorable things Bernie has done in the 2016 race is to step up and call out gender bias when others lack the courage:
“I think for a variety of reasons, Hillary Clinton has been under all kinds of attack for many, many years. In fact, I can’t think of many personalities who have been attacked for more reasons than Hillary Clinton. And by the way, let me be frank and I’m running against her: Some of it is sexist. I don’t know that a man would be treated the same way that Hillary is.“
Those comments, delivered last summer, failed to make a dent in the barrage of attacks against Hillary. If anything, the verbal assault has steadily intensified. At the same time, Hillary’s detractors question the very premise that gender bias is a factor in 2016.
The latest denial comes in the form of a Young Turks rant against Joan Walsh (and Hillary).
The confusion about sexism and misogyny in 2016 is not surprising. These ugly impulses don’t always manifest themselves in the most obvious ways. It’s not always a comment about a woman’s body parts, though there have been plenty of those in reference to Hillary.
Sometimes gender bias is an online mob screaming “liar” with terrifying fury.
Sometimes it’s accusing Hillary of being corrupt without an iota of evidence.
Sometimes it’s asking her to meet standards no male candidate is asked to meet.
Sometimes it’s a hashtag like #whichhillary hijacked by her haters to imply the other spelling of the first word.
Sometimes it’s media outlets using the most unflattering photos of Hillary imaginable.
Sometimes it’s male pundits condescendingly advising her to lower her voice.
And sometimes it’s just pure venom spewed at Hillary that comes from a deep well of hate that is entirely disconnected from anything she’s done in her life, the kind of rage you’d feel about a serial killer, not a highly accomplished and globally admired leader.
When people foam at the mouth talking about Hillary, it’s only fair to ask what the root impulse is. In Sady Doyle’s words:
Hillary-hate is the tendency for people to decide, at regular intervals, that Hillary Clinton is not a mainstream Democrat who’s carved out a groundbreaking career in politics, but a blood-drenched, boner-killing, venom-dripping hellbeast who is out to destroy America.
Last August, Tom Watson and I wrote this for HillaryMen:
Calling everything sexism dilutes the term and weakens it. Obviously, not every critique of Hillary is sexist. Hardly so. We have our own policy disagreements with her. Voters are entitled to like or dislike any candidate of their choice. Critics are always free to express their views. No candidate is beyond reproach, no person is perfect. These things go without saying.
But opponents of Hillary’s policy proposals should pay attention to Sen. Sanders. When a wall of words is erected simply to stop one woman from attaining a historic goal, then we must turn a critical eye to the process and ask ourselves whether or not it is being done because of her gender. In Hillary’s case, it is unacceptable that in a one month span, the following terms were used by major media publications to describe one of the most accomplished and popular woman in American history:
Machiavellian, Lovecraftian, slithering, monstrous, imperious, musty, petulant, paranoid, stale, scornful, regal, devious, deceitful, robotic, abnormal.
In Bernie Sanders’ words: “I don’t know that a man would be treated the same way that Hillary is.”