"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Hillary Problem Turned Around–Where Are The Sexist Women Hecklers?

In an article in the Washington Post (1.25.14) Jessica Valenti recounts the 2008 primary elections and how Hillary Clinton was attacked as much for being a woman as for being a second-rate candidate.  Valenti quotes the famous Todd Akins T-shirt (“Life’s a bitch, don’t vote for one”) and the heckler’s viral shout to the candidate, “Iron my shirt”; but says that such acrid sexism will guarantee Hillary a win at the polls. Both men and women have moved on.  We are in a post-sexist society, and the rabid dogs of talk radio will be marginalized.

Perhaps, but the question is why the screechy woman epithet still sticks, while the feminist image of men as hairy, knuckle-dragging, predatory, cock-trumps-brain, irremediably stupid men never does.  Women voted in large numbers for Mark Sanford, who went AWOL in Argentina chasing his Latina hottie; Eliot Spitzer who made a serious run for Comptroller of New York City; and a hundred other known pussy-chasing, hound-dogging politicians.  Why?

Regardless of feminist screeds, women like men, and they forgive them their sexual delinquencies because men are supposed to be bad boys.  In fact, every parent waits anxiously for the first bad boy to date their daughter. “Why do girls always fall for guys like that?” is the common, fearful plaint shared by Moms and Dads from Alaska to Florida.

Many women are still screechy; and men hear women’s complaints ad nauseam. They are after men for the toilet seat, hair in the sink, garbage still sitting in the kitchen, hidden feelings, and lack of consideration for their needs.  The list is endless, repetitive, and familiar.

The real issue for women is the skirt-chasing, not the toilet seats.  Male fidelity has always been important for women; and no woman wants her breadwinner to stray into someone else’s garden.  Even if in today’s liberated society husbands’ and wives’ incomes are equal, there is still enough residual female jealousy around to raise women’s antennae and hackles about male prowling.

From a woman’s point of view carping about insignificant issues is an exercise in control.  If men can be made to think they are the uncivilized, retrograde, brutes of feminist legend, they might think twice about slipping out at night. Women indeed screech more than men.

It is therefore surprising that more women do not heckle men at political rallies. “Keep your dick in your pants, you ape”; or “Womanizing prick” would be good.  It’s because women like macho men – not sleazebags like Bathroom Larry Craig, Cradle Robber Mark Reynolds, or Stud Muffin Anthony Weiner – but JFK and Obama.  Women in America are not that different from their sisters in France.  After news of President Hollande’s sexual escapades came out, his approval ratings among women went up

A common gripe of 30-something women is that they quickly find fault with their ‘good’ boyfriends.  The sharing of feelings gets boring after a while and they wish that Derek would be more unpredictable and, well, manly. 

This is not to say that there are not a lot of male throwbacks out there.  God knows that the stereotype of the dumb, drunk, wife-beating trailer trash husband is absolutely true; and women only put up with such cretins because they need two incomes to make ends meet.

There are also a lot of dumb, geeky gropers who couldn’t score with a woman if their lives depended on it. Public figures like Rush Limbaugh and the Radio Right, Todd Akin, or Mike Huckabee fall into both categories – dumb, arrogant dickheads – and most women hate them.  Women are smart enough, however, to avoid conflation.  These turkeys are idiots, but not all men are dopes.  As a matter of fact, most men are OK, and if women are savvy, a bit lucky, and play their cards right, they can find a reasonably faithful man who is a good father and decent husband. 

Many men, on the other hand, have been around too many hectoring women who are still behind the curve - women who are not successful power women with CEO jobs, confidence, and big benefits.  These women are either still trying to figure out how to square their love and respect for men with their own emerging independence; or have figured it all out, thank you very much, but are too economically powerless to do anything about it.

Men tend to be more doctrinaire, inflexible, and single-minded than women.  Women are either succubuses or saints; and men have trouble dealing with sexual complexity.  Women are very sexually complex, have no trouble with sifting and sorting gender issues, and see no problem using personality firewalls when convenient. 

It is understandable, then, why a lot of men hate Hillary.  They secretly envy her for her wealth, position, education, and smarts; but can’t help thinking of their own screechy wives when they hear her.  This has nothing to do with classic sexism.  These men do not hate women nor hate Hillary because she is a woman.  They hate her because she might be just like the woman they share the trailer with; and God forbid that they should have a lecturing, dismissive, and irritating woman at the helm of government.

A lot of the anti-Hillary bile comes from men who are profoundly conservative both socially and politically, and poor enough to have few fast-track women and even fewer gender-tolerant men.  Not only do these men dislike Hillary-as-trailer-wife, but because she is far to the left of them politically. They remember her in-house takeover attempt of health care and the arrogance with which she excluded outsiders and forced her own agenda.  They are highly critical of her record as Secretary of State (Benghazi is only the tip of the iceberg); and saw her as an opportunistic carpetbagging Senator.

It is worth noting that a woman is Governor of a profoundly Southern state – South Carolina, the home of Strom Thurmond and Fort Sumter – and I am sure that Nikki Haley, conservative to the core and without a suspect political past, ever gets the same misogynist tirades land not about Governor Haley.

Jessica Valenti oversimplifies the case against men. ‘Sexism’ is an overused catch-all phrase to stereotype, marginalize, and criticize men.  In reality attitudes towards women have more to do with complex social, economic , and regional issues than something virulent, primitive, and hateful.  While there is no doubt that there are some men who truly and deeply hate women for unexplained, deep primal reasons, most resentments and suspicions of women come from more rational and explainable places.

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