Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Overcompensation

Likely Democratic party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is a woman –
and that seems to be a very large part of her platform. She talks incessantly
about her gender and how it infuses her politics, and her supporters, taking
their cues from her, are quick to label any and all criticism of Mrs. Clinton
as “sexist” – a label that, these days, can mean anything from believing traditional
sex roles have some basis in human biology and the survival of the species to
heterosexual men whistling and making lewd comments at attractive women as they
walk down the street.

Now she has taken this strategy to its logical conclusion, accusing even her
own would-be supporters in the Democratic party base of  being insufficiently
enthusiastic about her candidacy because … they’re “sexists.” She recently
told
a writer for New York magazine that some people who attend her
rallies tell her:

“’I really admire you, I really like you,
I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come
to my events and then they say that to me. Unpacking this, understanding it,
is for writers like you. I’m just trying to cope with it. Deal with it. Live
through it.”

To begin with, I don’t believe a word of this, and neither do you. Can you
imagine anyone saying that directly to her face at one of her carefully-staged
rallies? I certainly can’t.

Putting that aside, however, no doubt there are some oldsters in the Democratic
base who hold this archaic view: yet polls showing her support is strongest
among the
older crowd
don’t bear this out. The core of Bernie Sanders’ base comes
from the so-called millennials, whose commitment to feminism we can take for
granted. Is Mrs. Clinton saying they are imbued with the poison of “sexism”?

On the other hand, it seems to me that there is something to what Hillary says,
even if the specific incidents she refers to are entirely a product of her imagination.
Although if I had the opportunity to engage with her, I might put it a little
differently, as follows:

“While I can’t say that I actually like you, I do have
to admire your grit: look how far you’ve come! However, I can’t vote for a woman
whose foreign policy platform is an attempt to prove how macho she is.”

This need to overcome the unreasonable idea that women are naturally pacifistic
has haunted female sovereigns since the days of Elizabeth I of England: Lizzie
subdued these prejudices by defeating the Spanish
armada, aiding
the French Huguenots, and invading
the Netherlands. Golda Meir had to overcome the objections of the Israeli religious
parties, who defeated her in her bid to become Mayor of Tel Aviv on the grounds
that a woman wasn’t up to the job: upon her ascension as Prime Minister, she
put all doubts to rest by mobilizing the…

Read more