twhelan’s blog comments on the rise of misogyny and violence against women and its relation to Mrs. Clinton’s run for office.

This relates closely to Stanley Fish’s op-ed piece All You Need is Hate on “Hillary bashers”.   The vitriolic disdain for Mrs. Clinton has increased as she campaigns for the office of U.S. President. 

I am neutral on Mrs. Clinton.  I agree with her stance on preserving human privacy with respect to the goings-on within our own reproductive organs (I want our culture to stop referring to my reproductive organs in the public possessive case of “the” as in “the womb”.  I fear the next step will be other body parts such as “the kidney”, especially since I still like using both of mine).

However, she is much too weak on other policies I feel are too important.   My ambivalence towards her candidacy is why I chose Fish’s op-ed piece to review. 

It seems “Hillary-bashers” don’t confine their disdain to public policy but to innuendo and fabrications that often run counter to each other or have nothing to do with anything of substance.  She’s too conservative, she’s too liberal, she’s changed her hairstyle too often, she’s too dowdy, she’d too flashy.  Fish cites a recent GQ article on this phenomenon in which he notes those who rail against Mrs. Clinton view her as “an empty vessel into which (her detractors) can pour everything they detest.”

Fish likens this deep hatred towards Hillary to something akin to anti-Semitism in that they both “feed on air and flourish independently of anything external to their obsessions”. 

I suggest that this phenomenon is deeply rooted in misogyny.  As we become aware of more attacks against women across our culture, is it any surprise that Mrs. Clinton is also being verbally assaulted?  Fish doesn’t address this bigger issue but rather focuses on the irrationality of hatred towards Mrs. Clinton.  

In many ways the hatred towards Mrs. Clinton reminds me of the public disdain Mary Todd Lincoln endured when she was perceived as having too much influence with respect to Abraham Lincoln’s policy decisions.   Many people in the late 1800’s thought it was unseemly for Lincoln’s wife to be his counsel in matters of state.  I dared to bring up this parallel at a public talk on Mary Lincoln at the Northern Indiana Historical Society in South Bend several years ago.  I pointed out that both Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Clinton were perceived by the public as very opinionated, strong women who had too much sway with their President-husbands.  I thought the speaker was going to snap her neck as she shook her head in refuting my very suggestion that the hatred pointed at Mary Lincoln could in any way have been similar to the hatred pointed at Hillary.  The speaker, who clearly was sympathetic to Mrs. Lincoln, quite obviously was no fan of Mrs. Clinton.  It took 150 years to pass for a kinder view of Mary Todd Lincoln to emerge.   Will human-kind have to wait until 2158 for a less misogynistic view of Hillary?

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