Copyright 2016 by Trish Causey.
While riding the bus to the store recently, I overhead a man talking politics to two other men. The first man remarked that he didn’t like Hillary Clinton because she was always mad. “She’s full of rage!” he exclaimed, waving his arms.
I butted in, of course, and said, 1) “No, she’s not full of rage, but if she were, she’d be justified”; and 2) “As a female candidate, she would be judged as too soft if she were completely ladylike and demure.” To hear a man say that Hillary is “full of rage”, I had to laugh. Can you imagine how the media would have skewered Hillary if she were half as angry as Bernie Sanders or said even 0.05% of the awful things Donald Trump has said?
I went on to say that when a man is stern, he is viewed as a man who knows what he wants and knows how to get it; but when a woman has the same confident know-how, she’s considered a “bitch” and “full of rage”. I encountered the same double-standard, misogynistic mentality when I ran for Congress. My progressive stance on human rights for all Americans made me “too mad” as a candidate.
Women in politics are characterized badly either way. A female candidate’s appearance is judged much more harshly in the media. One statistic I saw at the beginning of my campaign showed that the more the media talks about a female candidate’s appearance, the fewer number of people who vote for her.
This is why I do not talk about a candidate’s appearance. I remember how people ripped apart my looks during my 2014 campaign: my hair, my eyes, my body, even my lip liner. Therefore, if a person has nothing better to say about a female candidate than she “looks mad” and she “dresses _______” (fill in the blank), then I know that person has misogynistic tendencies.
Another problem men had with me as a candidate was that I was “overly opinionated” — because a woman with too many thoughts in her pretty little head is dangerous in the good ol’ boys club. But then, men have always thought I was too opinionated; they are threatened by a woman who is smarter and more capable than they are, who will knock their sexist men’s club to the ground.
Make no mistake. “Full of rage” and “opinionated” are code-words used by men to demean women they cannot control, as are “emotional”, “hormonal”, and “hysterical”. Remember — the removal of a woman’s uterus is called a “hyster-ectomy” to signify the removal of a woman’s hysteria.
Most women have encountered ridicule over our looks and body weight at our job or in society, but for women in politics, this dehumanizing harassment is a relentless, everyday occurrence perpetuated by a media that is more concerned with ratings and advertisers dollars than creating journalism of substance. As women, we cannot win the personality game in American politics the way men can because our society is not wholly ready to accept women as leaders as so many other countries have.
So, Hillary, if you are “full of rage”, GO FOR IT! I’m right here with you, and many other women are as well.