Panel: What does the USA election result say about misogyny? – The Guardian UK

Panel: What does the USA election result say about misogyny? – The Guardian UK

Faced with the choice between a qualified woman with flaws and a man who had lied, evaded taxes and faced many sexual assault allegations, USA voters chose the man

Hillary Rodham Clinton is hardly perfect, but her flaws are those of a sane human being and a politician – not of an orange troglodyte, sexual predator, who thrives on hatred.

Patricia Williams: Race and Sex stoke deep responses in the American psyche

Many years ago the great oral historian Studs Terkel recounted a story told to him by a woman who’d been molested by a relative as a child. She’d tried to tell her mother but no one would believe her. Yet one day when she was shopping with her mother and aunt, they spotted a black man far away on the other side of the department store.    

The women gathered the girl close to them, worrying aloud about the unbridled lust that that man might harbour toward little white girls. The now-grown woman told Terkel that, even as a young child, she could see the craziness in that moment: they could not see or hear that she was being assaulted by a member of the family, but instead marshalled their sexualised anxiety against the distant figure of a black man obliviously going about his business.

I have been thinking about that story quite a bit in recent weeks, as I’ve pondered the phenomenon of Donald Trump’s peculiar appeal to … well, any demographic, but especially a particular stratum of conservative women. I’m particularly intrigued by women who worry aloud about his extreme nativism or misogyny or careless grasp of foreign affairs – yet who then say that what really drives their allegiance is “hatred” of the supposedly murderous and licentious Hillary Clinton. This is often expressed as a repulsion so strong that, like the little girl’s mother and aunt, they are willing to give Uncle Donald a pass in the face of multiple allegations of sexual assault, breathtaking racism, unprecedented crudity, cruelty, verbal incoherence and globalised, soul-searing mendacity.

While the intensity of vitriol directed at Clinton still mystifies me to a great extent, Terkel’s story reminds me that there is an affective dynamic to all politics, an emotional narrative that may make sense in an alternate universe from which I may be functionally excluded. Race and sex stoke deep autonomic responses in the American psyche. Trump began his political career more than 20 years ago by taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times, calling for the execution of five teenagers wrongly accused of raping and beating a young white stockbroker who became known as the Central Park Jogger. Although DNA evidence pinned the crime to another man, Trump has never backed down from his assertion that he was right.

Similarly, throughout the campaign, Trump has evoked old tropes of a ravaged America, endlessly at risk from Mexican rapists, African American thugs and Muslim terrorists. Indeed, with endorsements from the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and George Zimmerman, Trump has revitalised a narrative of warrior masculinity that dates back to DW Griffith’s film Birth of a Nation – the trope of strong, pugilistic white vigilantes fighting against corrupt, lying and libertine black invaders (literally black voters in that movie) – in order to protect the honour of frightened white women. It seems not insignificant that Trump has consistently appeared with a backdrop of attentive women, blonde women, beautiful women who smile and wave and whom he symbolically shelters from rapists and terrorists and the “very bad people” from “certain neighbourhoods”.

Like many of us Nasty Women of a certain age and weight, Clinton is not sheltered by such cowboy chivalry. In addition, her achievements as secretary of state were slandered or obliterated in ways underwritten by suggestions of race-mixing, combined with horrendous and ubiquitous caricatures of Barack Obama: the dangerously “alien” black man who stole the reins of power and, in a lustily miscegenous union with Clinton, supposedly “invented Islamic State”.

In this alternative universe, Trump holds great appeal to those who were only recently forced to remove the Confederate flag from government buildings, and, in a profoundly felt sense, have never conceded that the American civil war is over.

Robin Morgan: A Diseased Patriarchy is in a Battle to the Death with Women

If you ever underestimated the ferocity with which systemic patriarchy would fight a woman attaining serious power, think again. But make no mistake: underlying all the other issues in this election – demographic shifts and racism, economics and education, globalism and immigration and nativism – at the core is a terminally diseased system of male supremacy in a battle to the death with women (and some male allies) who are determined to save ourselves and this planet.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is hardly perfect, but her flaws are those of a sane human being and a politician – not of an orange troglodyte, self-proclaimed “sexual predator”, who thrives on hatred. She could not have committed enough crimes, short of genocide, to warrant the 30 years of attacks she’s weathered – starting in Arkansas for simply wanting to keep her own name and law career. This year’s sexist vitriol came from the left (Bernie bros chanting, “Bern the witch”), the right (need I list these?), with, for the hell of it, accused rapist Julian Assange, Fox News’s alleged sexual harasser Roger Ailes and the FBI piling on.

The Republican party built this coup for years, preying on the fears of white, working-class, non-college-educated men terrified of a future filled with brown, black and female faces, plus globalisation and technology requiring skills they lack. The GOP conjured Trump, their Frankenstein’s creature, for decades – then acted as if they were shocked when he rose and walked. Hypocritical evangelicals rushed to back this multipli-divorced adulterer who spews hate speech. Our media was held hostage to ratings and ad buys: Les Moonves, head of CBS, proclaimed, “I know Trump’s bad for America, but he’s great for CBS, so bring it on!” Not until September did the press grasp the gravity of the threat, and it was print media (prematurely proclaimed dead), not broadcast media, that broke serious investigatory journalism about Trump – though he received nowhere near the scrutiny Clinton has endured for decades. And we worked ceaselessly to support her and voted as if there were no tomorrow.

Now? It feels as if there will be no tomorrow. The unimaginable has happened. Fascism has come to the republic – no hyperbole.

The world is afraid.

The one thing we know is that women are more than half the USA population, and the electoral gender gap was a chasm. Moreover, time, and the demographics of diversity and youth, are on our side.

We are digging in, and we will outlive them. The planet depends on it.

Kate Harding: My Country Hates Women, Which is Bad Enough, and Pretends it Doesn’t, Which is Worse

I’m not going to give you some “This isn’t the America I know” bullshit. This is absolutely the America I know. My country is racist, xenophobic, fearful and ignorant. My country hates women, which is bad enough, and pretends it doesn’t, which is worse. Having supported Hillary Clinton in both 2008 and 2016, I am well aware that enormous chunks of the left – let alone the rusted-out, heavily armed right – loathe her beyond all reason. For the last 25 years, I’ve watched everyone from trash tabloids to the New York Times to the director of the FBI work to assassinate Clinton’s character. I have watched people I used to respect buy into every lie ever printed about her, rather than confront their own discomfort with ambitious and powerful women.

“I feel hated,” I tell my husband, sobbing in front of the TV in my yoga pants and Hillary sweatshirt, holding my bare neck. “Hated.”

It’s not a new feeling, exactly. I’ve been a public feminist going on 10 years now, so I have some experience of being publicly despised. And I’ve been a US citizen for 41 years, during which time I have watched in horror as George W Bush was elected, fairly and unfairly; as we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan; as the religious right clawed away at reproductive freedom, state by state; as the Tea Party became a serious force in Republican politics. By now, I have seen so many videos of African-American citizens being extrajudicially executed by people sworn to serve and protect, I don’t even know what the point of taking them is any more. Evidence? What are the chances that the killers will even be indicted?

So it’s no real surprise to feel this hated by my country, this alienation from my fellow Americans. It’s not even something I will let myself cry about for more than a day, because I’ve got it better than most. I will never be a target of the KKK. I will never be deported because of my religion. I’ll never have my marriage invalidated because of the sex of my partner. For as much as America hates me, she’ll never tell me I belong behind a wall.

All I can do now is leverage my relatively privileged position in the fight to keep as many of us as possible as safe as possible. I’ll finish crying about it tomorrow, but that’s not when the fight starts. It started generations ago. Centuries ago.

Earlier on Tuesday evening, before the unthinkable went thunk, I asked my husband: “What has this election taught you about how America sees women?”

“This election has taught me that anyone other than Hillary would have given up ages ago, rather than take this relentless, awful abuse,” he said finally. “That’s why there’s never been a woman.”

He’s right. There’s never been an American woman who could fully transcend the relentless, awful abuse that comes with wanting more for herself, or for her country. But so many have died trying. If I have to, I guess I’ll be one of them.

Polly Toynbee: We Need to Fight Back Against a Tidal Wave of Dark and Dangerous Passions

A dark shutter falls across the western world. A macho white supremacist bellow has sent generations of progress slamming into reverse. Civilisation and basic civility are knocked down with hate, fear, xenophobia and primitive gut nationalism. Drain the swamp? He is the swamp.

How did the same country do this, after twice electing not only its first African-American president but one of the most decent, serious men ever to grace the White House? That effortless elegance of mind, those sublimely well-chosen words untainted by the faintest whiff of scandal, is replaced by the crass and the corrupt. What a falling-off is there, Hyperion to a satyr.

The super-rich will be in clover with Trump’s massive income tax cuts for them and a 20% cut in corporation tax, adding an estimated $5.3tn to national debt, according to the Financial Times. Bankruptcy has been his speciality. Hope and change, Obamacare – that brought health coverage to 20 million people – will be gone, with education and all state functions except defence taking a hard hit.

As Trump’s stubby fingers hover over the nuclear button, this climate change denier will fry the planet. Celebrating coal and gas, he calls global warming a Chinese-created hoax, stopping all payments to UN global warming programmes. “Making America great again” crashes the markets, as he sweeps the Senate, the House with trade deals off, walls up and Muslims banned. The leader of what was the free world is an erratic sociopath whose attention deficits make him unfit for complex decision-making. Pollsters are finished as election lore is upended, the old rules of whys and wherefores of voting habits gone, but who cares?

Traditionally, progressives beat themselves up when they lose. But consider the “crooked” Hillary, “lock her up” vitriol and the loathsome misogyny. This was the victory of ideas – mad, bad and potentially lethal. Naked emotion and nationalist Fox News identity politics triumphed over reason, economics, self-interest, truth and everything enlightened. Marine Le Pen welcomes a “free” America: that’s where we are. We have been here before. No, it’s not elitist to fight back against a tidal wave of dark and dangerous passions that need resisting at every turn from now on.

Patricia Hill Collins: I’m disappointed but I will keep up the fight

Mercifully, the 2016 campaign is over. Half of America has elected a new president while the other half looks on with dismay. This was no ordinary campaign. I had hoped that the country could confront the hatred that many of its citizens seemingly feel for black people, Latinos, Muslims, undocumented migrants and women. I had hoped that an eminently qualified white woman would escape the protracted vitriol that confronted our first sitting black president. Perhaps Clinton’s race would protect her from the insults she endured, in large part, because of her gender. I was wrong.

Clinton fought a good fight, and for this she should be commended. She shows us how to fight, lose, and come back to fight again another day. She navigated the blatant misogyny that characterised both her opponent’s campaign and rallies by many of the voters who put her opponent into office. Few of us have Clinton’s courage and fortitude. Yet given the lasting damage that might be done by this campaign, we may need it.

Good riddance to this nasty campaign. I’m obviously deeply disappointed that Clinton lost, but losing is not new to me. Many of us understand that bringing about social change is a lifelong struggle. Because there is no resting place for those of us who want to make America better, only the recognition of the dignity of struggle, I have to get up every day and find ways to work for the America that our children and grandchildren deserve. I have to be prepared for whatever comes my way, and that includes defeat. This is not a new lesson for me, and based on the tenacious nature of Clinton’s campaign, sadly, it’s an all too familiar lesson for her.

I wish she had won. It’s always easier to move forward with the wind at your back than it is to advance into a strong headwind, especially one that seemingly hates your guts. Once again I’m facing the sobering reality that the battle for fairness and decency starts anew each day. But I also know that this is one election along the difficult path of protecting and deepening American democracy. Commitments to opportunity, equity, civility and fairness are hallmarks of strong democracies and in my lifetime, we have made progress. I am committed to the promise of America, and now that this nasty campaign is over, I will continue to fight for my democracy. There’s simply too much at stake not to.

Arwa Mahdawi: Trump’s Victory is the Last Gasp of a Desperate White Patriarchy

On Tuesday morning I interviewed 96-year-old Esther Diamond, who was born before women had the right to vote in the USA. Finally, she’d had the chance to vote for a woman who looked likely to become president.

I left that interview exhilarated about how much women’s rights had progressed in Diamond’s lifetime. Exhilaration was in the air in New York. The ultimate glass ceiling was about to be shattered. There was an intoxicating sense that women could achieve anything we wanted now. That the future was female.

Less than 24 hours later America voted an unqualified misogynist who has spoken about “grabbing women by the pussy” into the White House. Women can do anything we want now, it seems, unless we aim too high.

We can run for president but we’ll be indulged in the endeavour, not actively supported. We can rack up decades of experience and have it trivialised in seconds. We can speak up about sexual assault and then see our alleged assailant elected into the highest office in the country.

Trump’s win has trained a spotlight on the extent of the misogyny that runs through America. Importantly, however, it also reveals just how far women’s rights have come; how much has been achieved; how threatened the denizens of a fading America feel. Trump’s victory is the last gasp of a desperate white patriarchy. Clinton may have lost the election but that doesn’t mean women lost on Wednesday morning. Our fight isn’t over.

Ah, but we also need to be careful not to frame Trump’s victory as a case of men versus women. Exit polls show that the majority of white women voted for Trump. It seems that upholding white privilege is a bigger priority for many women in America than protecting legislation that gives them control over their own bodies.

Indeed, if Trump’s win has taught us one thing it’s that we need to stop talking about “women’s rights”. We need to stop pretending that women in America are a homogeneous group with the same privileges and priorities. Feminism is meaningless unless we talk about intersectional feminism. It’s women of colour who should feel the angriest today. It’s women of colour who have been most let down. And it’s women of colour who have the most to lose.

Suzanne Moore: Every Freedom that America’s Women have Fought for is now Under Attack

What do we tell our daughters about the future? The big girls who sat up waiting to see the horror-show sexist get his comeuppance? Or the little ones who we told would see the first female president of America? Do we tell them this role is still beyond the reach of any woman? That no woman can meet the standards that are required of her?

A qualified woman with flaws has lost to a man whose lies, tax avoidance and sexual assault allegations are not flaws enough to bar him from the role, nor indeed massive support. Hillary was a prose candidate, not enough poetry. Trump didn’t even do prose, just stream-of-consciousness prejudice.

All through the night I heard “experts” say people respond negatively to women seeking power. They hold them to higher standards. Trump dispensed with standards altogether. Women function to service him, as trophies, possessions. Their bodies are not autonomous. Allegedly, he needs no consent to grope them. This is what your daughters will see now that a man with the lowest possible opinion of women has been elected to the highest office. This is what your sons will see.

If you are a powerful man in America you can treat women like dirt, refuse them the right to make decisions on reproductive rights, basically consider women’s lives lesser than yours. The patriarchy is fully restored. And yes, some women helped restore it, some women voted for Trump, possibly two thirds of white women. For the misogyny around Hillary came from all quarters: the Bernie fans who would not vote for her, the many men of the left who said there was little difference between Clinton and Trump – because women’s rights are low down in their list of priorities. Male privilege spoke on the left and the right.

The Nate Silver charts show that if only women voted, Clinton would have won easily. The rage of men is so powerful, they will unite around this inadequate narcissist. To move back out of the dark ages we are going to need girls and boys to go back to basics, to break up this band of old rich white men who have battered the soul of America. However heartbroken America’s women are, it is they who now have to pick up the pieces. It is they who have to fight for themselves because every freedom they have fought for is now under attack.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 7, 2017 at 1:50 am

    I like some of what was written, say – “Ah, but we also need to be careful not to frame Trump’s victory as a case of MEN versus WOMEN.”

    And more like it was between a Black President’s Third Term versus White Superiority or White Privilege or White Nationalism – America First.

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 7, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Hillary Clinton Says Misogyny Played A Part In Her Loss. She’s Right.

    Is this really a debate?

    By Emily Peck | Huffington Post

    Hillary Clinton got the internet talking about misogyny ― again.

    On Tuesday, Clinton agreed that hatred of women played a role in her defeat last November. Speaking at a Women for Women event in New York, she initially blamed her loss on herself, FBI Director James Comey and Russian hackers.

    Did misogyny also play a role? asked journalist Christiane Amanpour.

    “Yes, I do think it played a role,” Clinton said, echoing comments she’d made in April to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. She said she would go into more detail in her forthcoming book, due out in September.

    Apparently, her remarks made people curious ― about the word “misogyny.”

    Merriam-Webster tweeted that lookups for “misogyny” jumped 10,042 percent, making the word its “#1 lookup.” It’s unclear what exactly those numbers mean. The percentage hike sounds like a lot, but it could very well have been an increase from one lookup.

    Still, people are thinking about misogyny, and that’s good because misogyny, gender bias and sexism are everywhere. If we want to advance gender equality, we need to talk about this.

    Clinton’s experience of sexism is singular: No other woman has ever come so close to the Oval Office. But it’s also mind-achingly universal.

    “Misogyny affects women every day, often in very small and repetitive ways,” said Michelle Ryan, an organizational and social psychologist at the U.K.’s University of Exeter. “It’s often unremarkable because it is so pervasive. It becomes almost background noise. What is noteworthy about the misogyny faced by Clinton is not its content ― that is, unfortunately, oh so familiar ― but rather that it happened on such a big stage.”

    Misogyny poured out in the anti-Clinton rhetoric during the campaign: All those terrible remarks, posters and chants about her looks. Donald Trump’s absurd “nasty woman” comment during a presidential debate. The fact that so many voters judged her untrustworthy for not being forthcoming about those emails while supporting her opponent, who lied with breathtaking regularity. And just imagine how Americans would have reacted to her joking about sexually assaulting men.

    Women are held to different standards than white men and men, in general. All over corporate America, in academia, in journalism, loudly over-confident men regularly beat out better qualified women for jobs. I’ve worked with countless competent women over the years who were deemed “bitches” because they had the audacity not to smile very much while working.

    I’ve lost track of the number of people who said they just didn’t like Clinton but couldn’t express why. Part of it surely had to do with well-studied expectations about gender roles: Women are supposed to be submissive, compliant helpers. Men are leaders. And when men and women switch roles, people go a little bonkers.

    For women in leadership roles, this creates a double bind. If you act like a leader, you’ll be called out for being a bitch. If you attempt to act “nicely,” you’ll be judged an ineffectual leader.

    So, female CEOs and politicians and many other women walk a tightrope. Clinton endlessly sought to recalibrate her appearance, to amp up her warmth, to get people to like her.

    Even in defeat, after winning the popular vote, she was extra nice. According to a Fortune magazine analysis going back to 1952, Clinton was the first losing presidential candidate to apologize in her concession speech for not winning.

    To be clear, I’m not saying Clinton didn’t have other problems. She brought to the election a long record, some parts of it more admirable than others. And, of course, many voters didn’t agree with her policy positions.

    Still, the hurdle remains: Lots of Americans don’t like it when women aim for the ultimate power. Remember, Clinton was a well-liked secretary of state. She was unthreatening then ― when she reported to a man.

    You could even see the bias in the reaction to Clinton’s comments on Tuesday.

    “It’s completely plausible that Comey or Russia or misogyny made the difference,” Philip Rucker wrote in The Washington Post. “But ‘absolute personal responsibility’ suggests you are taking total accountability for the outcome.”

    It’s unclear why “total accountability” would mean refusing to recognize the obvious.

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 7, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Pope criticises USA military for using word ‘mother’ to describe MOAB Bomb

    He says that anything that takes life away shouldn’t be associated with motherhood

    Clark Mindock – Independent UK

    Pope Francis has criticised the United States military and the talking heads who discuss the military for calling a bomb a “mother.”

    The pontiff’s comments — referencing the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB), the largest bomb in the American arsenal — came during a speech he gave to an audience of students, and just weeks before he is scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump.

    “I was ashamed when I heard the name,” the pope said. “A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is happening?’

    The MOAB bomb was used for the first-time last month to attack a series of caves with ISIS insurgents in tunnels in the Achin district, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Although that was the first time that the bomb had been used by the USA military, the explosive had been in the American arsenal for over a decade.

    The bomb itself weighs more than 10 kilograms and has a blast radius that is a mile wide. Because it is referred to by it’s acronym instead of it’s official name, people began to refer to it as the “mother of all bombs” colloquially.

    It is not the first time that the pope has taken offense from something connected to Mr Trump. The two disagree on a range of subjects and Pope Francis has been critical of the American president several times.

    For instance, the two have diametrically opposed views on immigration, very different understandings of the impacts and importance of climate change, and do not see eye to eye on how to respond to the ongoing refugee crisis that has stemmed from the civil war in Syria that has torn up families and communities.

    The president will stop by the Vatican later this month during a trip to Europe, one of his first overseas ventures since moving into the White House.

  • Connie Hubbs  On May 7, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    More and more I have come to question and now reject the strategy employed by the Democrats which is targeting certain groups like women and Latinos and telling them you are their candidate because your opponent is so awful to women and Latinos. Groups are not homogeneous number # and many women were unconcerned about Trump’s sex ism. Many Latinos value a strong male figure and are also themselves critical of criminal elements in their community. The assumed 45 was not talking about them. None of this explains the extreme ridiculous hatred of Clinton. I continue to hear anti Hilary talk on both the left and right when you would think it would be long over. Misogyny is very much still alive as is racism. Many R voters made a choice that was completely contrary to their self interest. Those should have been Democrat votes. Let’s refocus on class issues and the fight for equality otherwise we could be doomed to another Era of fascism.

  • Elsie Dean  On May 7, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I question your assessment of Hilary Clinton “Hillary Rodham Clinton is hardly perfect, but her flaws are those of a sane human being and a politician – not of an orange troglodyte, sexual predator, who thrives on hatred

    HC has promoted and helped instigate wars of human and environmental destruction in many countries, I would not classify that as normal human being. HC is a hatefilled being who expresses glee at the killing and suffering she has been a part of. Please study her recent history.

  • Deen  On May 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    An incisive and provocative article, boldly written and brilliantly composed.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On May 7, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    While I don’t share the panel’s downplay of Clinton’s major flaw as a war hawk, I applaud them for an excellent analysis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: