I’ve decided to jump into the political fray this week and address the issue of equality for women as it relates to the presidential campaign.
Last week, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D) was seen by onlookers as “staggering while getting into a van” when she was leaving a 9/11 memorial service in New York on Sunday. A video later showed Clinton stumbling and looking woozy.
Some of the reporters, frenzied from blood in the political and journalistic waters, reported her as “swooning” when describing how the 68-year-old woman seemed to collapse (Politico).
This term is rarely, if ever, used to describe men in similar circumstances.
Donald Trump supporters began foaming at the mouth, as did many Republicans, and began to churn out shitloads of inane observations, accusations, and armchair diagnoses—stating that she should simply “accept her weaknesses” and “withdraw” from the presidential race. Trump maintains that she “doesn’t have a presidential look.”
Many are claiming her decision to withhold her diagnosis of pneumonia only a few days before this incident shows her lack of transparency. They claim Clinton is not strong enough and is “too fragile” because of her gender to “lead” the country.
Welcome to 2016 where views about women are still fucked up!
Women were granted the right to vote less than one hundred years ago, with the 19th Amendment passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920. Never mind that men were able to vote almost since the inception of our country. At least, those in elite positions could vote, landowners and such, until about the time of the Civil War when those elite individuals needed the votes of black men and white men of the underclass to further their power and ambition.
However, in the 96 years since, women are still viewed by many as unfit to lead in so many areas of this great country, especially in such highly coveted and powerful positions in politics, most notably as President of the United States.
Women have come a long way. More of us are in the Senate, House of Representatives, and take on leadership roles in business, all levels of politics, in art and literature, careers, and on the home front more than ever before.
Still, since Clinton’s bid for the nomination and now in her candidacy for the Democratic ticket for president, women are being highly scrutinized and even falling under attack by factions who believe it’s wrong to have a woman in the running for Commander in Chief.
Since I don’t make a habit of speaking out about my political or religious beliefs on social media or in social circles, I have watched with horror at the poisonous and vehement attacks made—mostly by men—against women who support Clinton or express opposition of Trump.
The other day a good friend of mine, Brent Sanders, who excels in the area of political invective and satire, posted a status on Facebook poking fun at Donald Trump’s recent “medical thumbs up” from Doctor Oz. A guy made a comment opposing Brent’s jab at Trump, and I couldn’t sit passively behind my computer anymore. I made it “clear” that his supposed source of Trump as “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” wasn’t necessarily valid as Trump’s mental and emotional health are in question, especially since he appears narcissistic and bullies other people like a fourth-grade boy who doesn’t get his way. I may have even said that Trump is a misogynistic dick, but I digress.
Trump is not necessarily any more “fit” for the job as POTUS than Clinton. Some of us believe he’s the worst possible choice. I did not say Clinton was my choice for the White House, nor did I personally attack the man who was showing support for Trump.
Yet, the response I received in return for my opinion about a presidential candidate became a very personal attack on me. Instead of discussing the validity of the argument as it pertained to the candidate’s abilities or lack thereof, this man proceeded to rake me over the coals:
“Of course I disagree. Thr (sic) PC world that libs want is devoid of strong willed, smart individuals who actually care about this country. Kim Bailey Deal when I see your doctorate degree I’ll take you seriously. Otherwise you’re just another man hating fembot who thinks with her ovaries and not her brain.”
He went on to say, that “women have never had more equality than right now in this country but that’s not good enough.”
That was the only intelligent thing he said.
No, it’s not good enough, dumbass.
I don’t know this guy, and he certainly doesn’t know me. Ironically, he put down my assessment of Trump’s health while he also made his own claims about it, but pointedly stated that I had no qualifications since I do not have a doctorate degree. Like he does?
I responded that I never attacked him personally but simply disagreed with Trump’s “health” and whether he would make a good president. This idiot got personal and attacked me and my gender. Obviously this guy has no real respect for women. It is not an uncommon occurrence.
That’s what happens when women speak up. I know this because over the course of my life I have spoken up and felt the heat of men’s anger many times.
The truth here is that women still have a long way to go to be considered equal in this society. I have a lot of men in my life who are supportive and respectful, who do not bash me for my opinions, nor do they see me as inferior because I have “ovaries.” Still, there are more men who are critical of my opinions and who have felt free to put me down and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. What’s unfortunate is there are a lot of women who side with this antiquated and deeply rooted patriarchal belief.
Hillary Clinton is not my first choice for the first female presidency, but I do respect her for making it this far. She’s a strong, intelligent woman with a tough exterior. And why wouldn’t she appear tough, refusing to let others see her human vulnerabilities by revealing her illness while she’s in the biggest battle of her career? At the first hint that she was sick, the woman was torn to shreds by her opponents and the supposedly objective press.
As a woman I understand her need to press on, show up for work, and not allow her illness to slow her down. Women are pressured into being tough like men in order to be seen as strong and capable in this world. We are not allowed to be sick, reveal our emotions, or back off from a hard task lest we be pigeon-holed by our gender. We are called bitches when we are tough, but as women, we are considered weak if we waiver in the slightest.
Hillary Clinton is the same age as my mother. My mom is in great shape for a 68-year-old woman. She looks fantastic. Considering some of the hard road she’s travelled, she’s a tough lady. If she showed up to work fearing ridicule and condescension by the men who resented her presence, and collapsed because she pushed herself through pneumonia or any other illness, I’d be in the face of the first person to put her down as weak and unfit to do her duty. She’s worked through pneumonia, bronchitis, with a broken wrist, with the flu, and after long nights caring for a sick husband and daughters. There was never any question of her strength.
As a mother, I’ve had to do the same. It’s what so many women do. We have to be strong in the face of blatant resentment for our presence lest we will lose ground in our fight for equality.
I am inclined to grant the same respect for Clinton. Whether I agree with her political platform or not, the woman has my admiration. She’s making history while scrapping for her right to do it. I’ll lay odds no other candidate to date has had to work so hard or endure the kind of hostility and hate being spewed, other than President Obama. While the animosity for Clinton has been about her gender, Obama faces it for the color of his skin.
Women deserve to be treated with respect and it is high time such respect became universal.
Let the naysayers cry in their beer or their margaritas while they mourn the loss of their so-called power and spread their hate and ignorance.
Hillary Clinton is a badass who deserves, at the very least, the recognition that she can get tough when the tough gets going.
Kim Bailey Deal writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. She is currently revising her first novel and finishing her second, as well as co-editing an anthology. Publications: MORE Magazine’s Member Voices, The Pull of Strays; Issue 3 of Firefly Magazine, A Journal of Luminous Writing; Writer’s Digest as part of editor Robert Lee Brewer’s blog. She lives in Chattanooga, TN and is the mother of four grown children, three boys and one girl, and “Nim” to her husband’s grandchildren. To connect, she can be found at kimbaileydeal.net, Kim Bailey Deal Page on Facebook, @wordjunkie1966 on Twitter