Category Archives: Women & Media

“Put in Her Place”

clinton3Why has the first female presidential nominee also been one of the most disliked candidates in history? That is no coincidence. I’d argue she’s earned a disproportionate amount of hatred for actions that pale in comparison to some of her political compatriots. (See the Mitt Romney email scandal, Colin Powell Blackberry scandal, and the Bush Administration email scandal. Email scandals would appear to be a rite of passage).

What we are seeing here is a deeply intrinsic and pervasive bias against her, stemming from a core audience of men (unaware that they are only faux-progressive) and participatory women (unaware of the harm they are doing) for whom Hillary hits a nerve they cannot explain. This is not everyone, of course. These are specific tribes that span across the partisan divide, planted within communities around the country, upholding a bias that is neither Republican nor Democratic. Just sexist. This bias has become normalized, so much so that we almost cannot make this argument overtly. Because no one wants to admit that this record dislike for Hillary is truly sexism at work.

The fact is that those who oppose her reach for policy reasons yet point to her dishonesty as the chief cause. But we are forgetting that lesser men, more dishonest men, have walked the same path before her – some with weaker policies, grayer ethics, and more flagrant scandals. And now, when her opponent is the clearest winner of the scandal-immorality-lack of policy-general degradation of the American people-battle, she is still seen as dishonest standing up there next to him. All of a sudden her detractors portray her as the first person to have ever behaved in a self-serving way. As if now our moral bar has been raised because we have a woman to evaluate.


It is too convenient and too instinctive for some men to want to see women punished for self-centrism or ambition, because it goes against the classic, nurturing (Mary) stereotype this country and much of its politics was built around. Men, when standing alone and striving for success, are driven and ambitious to any end, comforted by the fact that that is their God-given role in the world. Women, when standing alone, when not in service of men, are suddenly a cesspool of scandal and immorality. Unfairly judged against their opponents because their role was always meant to nurture their male counterpart and they chose against it; they chose themselves instead.

“In truth, the Hillary haters seem to resent her more than disagree with her. They demand to be humored and catered to. They hold her to wildly different standards than her male counterparts. They regard her with an unprecedented degree of suspicion. Above all, they really, really want to see her punished. And an aggressive male presence—even if dangerously incompetent—seems to comfort a great many of them.” – Larry Womack, HuffPost

This is what our election has come down to. Those of us that consider ourselves progressive but do not support her may want to believe gender equality is possible – – just not via Hillary. But let’s not fool ourselves. What we are actually saying is that we will not vote for a woman who chose herself. And we will put her down until she, and all the women watching, remembers that she has a place.

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Monica Lewinsky on the ‘Culture of Humiliation’: Her Incredible Story

Monica Lewinsky’s self-reflection, coming-out-of-hiding piece in Vanity Fair is incredibly poignant and insightful. She looks back and evaluates the cruelty of the media and society for putting a “24 year old girl through the wringer.” And she’s so right! She talks about what that shame looked like, felt like, how she dealt – and didn’t deal, the feminists that didn’t show up to the conversation, and how tied her life became to the political calendar. She says:

Monica Lewinsky photographed by Mark Seliger in her Los Angeles home

Monica Lewinsky photographed by Mark Seliger in her Los Angeles home

“When I hear of Hillary’s prospective candidacy, I cannot help but fear the next wave of paparazzi, the next wave of “Where is she now?” stories, the next reference to me in Fox News’s coverage of the primaries. I’ve begun to find it debilitating to plot out the cycle of my life based, to some degree, on the political calendar. For me, it’s a scenario in which the personal and the political are impossible to separate…I turned 40 last year, and it is time to stop tiptoeing around my past—and other people’s futures.”

This is the first I’m hearing of her, and definitely FROM her, since my kid-self saw her face all over the news and didn’t quite understand (and was, I gather, purposely not told) what “she” had done. She explains how she became the object of fault, a scapegoat, forever symbolic of  “That Woman.” Yet she never bashes the Clintons, never points a finger anywhere, and firmly states that it was always “a consensual relationship.” Monica Lewinsky proves in this piece, she’s a woman of integrity.

She made an interesting point about being defined by the media:  she didn’t let the “Interngate” scandal define her, but she was so young, she didn’t have an identity to fall back on. And that is what she hopes to prevent in her efforts against cyber-bullying, a voice of sympathy and reassurance that one event, however public, does not define you.

Impressed, to say the least. And excited for what she’ll bring to the anti-media-bullying table. I hope its not the last we hear of her. Her story is incredible, and one of strength and resilience.



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