It’s not easy being a white woman in politics.
Ever since Hillary got the formal nod from the Democratic National Convention, there’s been a lot of blowback from Bernie Sanders supporters. The animosity between these two camps has been frequent and heated, but recently it’s hit a boiling point that’s bringing out the ugly in everyone.
To be clear, there are plenty of valid reasons to criticize Hillary Clinton. Unlike Bernie Sanders, she’s accepted a lot of money from large corporate donors, as every other political candidate has done. She’s collected $4.5 million alone from employees and registered lobbyists of fossil fuel companies, and many of the big backers of the Clinton Foundation are ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell.
She comes across as inauthentic, as someone without strong viewpoints, as someone who’s a mouthpiece for others rather than someone who stands by the courage of her own convictions. In a nutshell, Hillary Clinton is your standard Democratic politician in a world full of voters who rallied behind Trump and Sanders precisely because the idea of yet another standard politician is exhausting.
That being said, let’s not ignore the sexism that’s been a crucial part of the Hillary smear campaign, both obvious and otherwise.
You have your standard women-hating Sanders supporters, like the ones who threw dollars at Clinton during a fundraiser in San Francisco, calling her a whore with their bills after Sanders supporter Dr Paul Song was quoted as saying “Medicare for all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big pharma”.
The Times conducted a political survey in which they asked men why they weren’t supporting Clinton, and several answered that “they did not think a woman should be commander in chief”. The people who answered in this way were registered as Democrats and Independents.
Despite finally having a president who doesn’t fit the demographic, we still live in a world where politics are conducted mostly by white men. While we might expect Republican white men to maintain sexist views that would preclude Clinton’s nomination, it’s disappointing to find that the same thing rings true across party lines.
The more subtle forms of sexism are the most harmful in large part because they come from the mouths of people you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with sexist opinions. So when someone critiques Clinton for not being as outspoken or authentic, we think this is an alright criticism to pass on. But again, politics are ruled by white men. Bernie Sanders himself acknowledges repeatedly that he has the privilege of being a white man in politics – he is heard over the Elizabeth Warrens precisely because he has the ability to be red-faced, wild-haired and angry without being negatively labeled for it.
Do you think a woman, even a white woman, could get away with shouting at corporations from a podium and still get a presidential nod? People love Bernie Sanders for not playing the political game, but they forget that this is a luxury he’s afforded that Clinton can’t purchase. She has to play the game. To get where she is now, she’s had no choice but to play the game. She’ll have to continue to play the game in office, and she’ll have to play it harder than any man in her position would be forced to.
Before you accuse her of being inauthentic, really examine why it is you think that. Before you slam her for being “just another politician”, consider the system that makes that a requirement for anyone who isn’t a white man. Bring forth your criticisms of politicians – just make sure you’re keeping both subtle and obvious sexism out of it.
Comment: Who will have your vote in the upcoming presidential election?