On Friday, a friend of mine posted, sigh, a 35 minute clip of Bernie Sanders with the text "If he were a woman, you would be all in! I know it! LOL!"
I know he was just joshing. I know it was just a joke. But I suspect he was, as Al Franken used to say, "kidding on the square." In other words, framing what he felt to be true as a joke to keep it light or to maintain pliable deniability. And I, I'm sorry to say, lost my shit a little. My reaction was a bit like:
When I really should have been aiming for:
But, I confess, after ... how long has this primary season been going on? Since the dawn of time? It feels like since the dawn of time. So, since the dawn of time, I've found myself growing increasingly frustrated when I, the female voter, and Hillary, the female candidate, are endlessly called upon to defend against gender bias; while the male voter and the male candidate are just, you know, default and unremarkable.
This is not to say that I think any of my Bernie friends are voting for Bernie because he's a man. I know this because they're all super eager to tell me how much they love Elizabeth Warren. But they do not seem interested in interrogating whether there's a gender bias in play at how Bernie is treated - if Bernie (or any male candidate) has a leg up simply because their gender card is just the "normal" one.
So let me answer the question as directly as possible: would I be so passionate about Hillary Clinton if she were a man? No. Because if she were a man, she wouldn't be Hillary Freaking Clinton.
The politician she is has been forged in a smithy of sexism for over 30 years. The mountain of shit she's had to defend against has played a role in her becoming a politician I deeply admire. It frustrates me so much that I'm supposed to believe that her female-ness doesn't matter. Lookit: male/female isn't some facile binary that you can just wish away from significance. The fact that she is a woman, a female politician, informs her in ways far weightier than symbolism. Stop asking me to ignore it.
Way back when in the campaign of 2008, I was as passionate an anti-Clintite as anyone out there today. I thought she was a corporate shill, power-mad, an entitled political elite. And I believed all of that because that's what people had been saying about her for pretty much my entire adult life. But then I saw her sit through eleven hours of obstructionist, Republican, Benghazi nonsense-mongering. And she was a goddamn rockstar. It was like a switch flipped for me and I decided to stop believing the 30 year long marketing campaign designed to discredit her and pay actual attention to who she is.
And who is she? She is someone who is really good at politics. She is temperamentally suited to the job. She is a good, solid progressive. She will Get Shit Done. If the past eight years of effective presidenting have taught me anything it's that inspirational speechifying makes for inspirational inspiring, but the sausage gets made the same way it always has. And I mean since the dawn of this great nation: good politicians politick their way to change. And if that seems dirty to you, I'd recommend you go check out this rather brilliant blogpost from my good pal, Paul.
I am passionate about Hillary Clinton - about the politician she is and what I believe she can do. I believe she is a better candidate and will be a better president than Bernie Sanders. And if one more person says "if she were a man..." my head will explode. I'd say this would be one less vote for Hillary, but, I already voted for her and she's already won and she's going to be the person running against Donald Trump. So, let's try to keep my head intact, shall we? Stop trying to throw the "woman card" at me: there is no such thing.