Emma Green reports: Depending on your perspective, it’s either Hillary Clinton’s great misfortune or incredible luck to be matched with an opponent who believes men like him can simply grab women “by the pussy,” who has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances against colleagues, and who made a sport of sizing up all the beauty queens in the pageant he owned. Because Donald Trump represents the worst version of how powerful men treat women, the symbolism of Clinton can seem uncomplicated: Her White House victory, if it comes, will be a win for women.
What that means, though, is that women have been twice silenced in this election: Once by Donald Trump and his allies, who have dismissed his demeaning behavior toward women as “locker-room talk,” and the other by Clinton and her supporters, who have pushed a narrative that she is both the symbol and champion of women’s progress. The second is subtler, and in no way equivalent to Donald Trump’s comments on women. But for some women who don’t feel represented by Clinton — specifically those on the left, along with women of color — this experience has been alienating. Just as it’s important for women and feminists to resist the downward suck of Trump’s vulgarity, so it’s important to entertain the limits of what Clinton’s presidency might mean for women’s advancement.
“If you criticize HRC, it looks like you’re endorsing fascism,” said Catherine Liu, a professor of film and media studies at University of California, Irvine.
And “the tone of some of this has been: If you are anti-Hillary, you are anti-woman,” said Naomi Christine Leapheart, a non-profit worker in Philadelphia who is seeking her ordination in the United Church of Christ. “I have, as they would say, receipts in that department.”
At the beginning of October, Clinton held a 20-percentage-point lead over her opponent among women surveyed in a Quinnipiac poll. But even women who intend to vote for Clinton don’t necessarily see themselves in her. Lots of women in the U.S., like Leapheart and others from around the country whom I spoke with in phone interviews, are not enthusiastic about Clinton, even if they’re horrified by the possibility of a President Trump. As the language used to refer to women has somehow become even more ugly and sexist during these final days of the election, a strong majority of women voters have signaled their intention to vote for Clinton. But the real divisions among them have largely been overlooked as a result. [Continue reading…]