Some people like to pretend that politics isn’t just base emotions writ large. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have this Donald Trump situation on our hands. Facts are nice, but we all vote based on some sort of gut-level response to a candidate—in the primaries, anyway. Now, for the majority of my lived memory, I’ve heard nothing but shit about Hillary Clinton; from my (conservative) parents and other adults around me, from the media, and later, from fellow “progressives.” But I have come, since 2008, to really respect, admire, and yes, LIKE Hillary Clinton. I like her because she is a smart, accomplished woman. I like her because she’s a badass survivor. I like her because, yes, I can see myself in her. I like her because she puts women first. And in some ways, I like her because certain other people don’t. Oh, holier-than-thou liberal dudes think she’s too conservative? PLEASE SIGN ME UP. Actual conservatives become apoplectic at the mention of her name? YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU I’LL HAVE SECONDS. Society says an ambitious and ew, disgusting older woman is frightening and unpleasant and unattractive? SHUT UP HOLD THE PHONE LET’S GET BEST FRIEND NECKLACES. (See Sady Doyle for a smarter way to say all this.)
|I imagine this is all many people will take away from this anyway, so might as well bring it back.|
My radicalism might not look like your radicalism, but to me, admitting that I like Hillary Clinton is kind of radical. Admitting it in public so that dudes I know (and thought I was friends with) can tell me my politics are “terrible” and claim I only care that she has a vagina is also radical. In real life, I hate conflict! I am uncomfortable with debate and disagreement! But also, a woman running for and winning a major party’s nomination, if not the presidency itself would be TOTALLY RADICAL. And yeah, becoming a Hillary fan falls right in step with my love affair with not-quite-ironic internet-based misandry. I really could go the entire rest of my life without a man explaining something to me or being in charge of me in any way. I know that’s probably not possible, but yeah, a lady in charge of our country would be refreshing if nothing else. Ugh, at least women wear COLOR.
Each time I post something pro-Hillary, a subset of my Facebook friends, almost exclusively women, like it and comment supportively, sometimes admitting that they've been reluctant to say they're pro-Hillary, too. This is who I’m writing this for. All of us who believe we need somebody’s permission to like who we like and support who we support. Now, there’s no scientific way to prove a negative, but I feel strongly that if Hillary Clinton weren’t a woman, she might get some of the same (legitimate) criticism from fellow liberals about corporate ties, insiderism, unfortunate past votes, not-so-progressive policies she currently supports, etc. You know, substantive critiques. However, the vociferousness with which people IN HER OWN PARTY try to tear her apart is given its teeth by a certain amount of misogyny. Maybe you personally don’t think you hate women, but if you say, do, or even think sexist shit in response to Clinton’s candidacy, you kinda do. If you don't have that reaction but you see this tendency among your peers and say nothing, you’re part of the problem.
This is all to say that I’ve felt the need to defend my choice of candidate. I don’t come on your feed and yell at you that you only care about Bernie’s dick, so why you gotta get up in my face? Hillary’s qualifications are bonafide. Crazy smart. Experienced like a motherfucker. And a feminist who’s not afraid of the word. (Again, Sady Doyle’s got the scoop on articulating why women like me feel like “progressive” often doesn't include our issues.) Additionally, the symbolic value of a female president can’t be overstated. I won’t pretend that’s not a big reason I support Clinton. But I also support her because she’s used her status AS A WOMAN in politics to enact policy worldwide to improve women’s lives. Not every policy she’s supported is good. Some of them do hurt women and children and/or people of color and other vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, this is the society and the politics and government we live with. Por ejemplo: Is there any major party candidate who WOULD end targeted drone strokes? I think not. That doesn’t mean it’s not awful or that we shouldn’t pressure the people in charge to stop it, it just means that here we are.
|"Women's rights are human rights [motherfuckers]."|
However, I don’t think anyone can impeach the efforts Clinton HAS made: as First Lady, as a Senator, and as Secretary of State, to improve the lives of women and girls. And that brings us to what everybody brings up. What I joke about because that’s what I do: I joke. The more my emotions get pricked, the more I joke. Because that’s what I do. But so what if I have a VAGINA? So fucking what? You can have no idea what it’s like for the entire world to be obsessed with, hate, desire, want to control, and concurrently be disgusted by a part of your body if you’ve never lived with one. It’s exhausting. So sure: vaginavaginavaginavaginavagina. I’m not saying you have to have the “right” parts to be a good ally to women—and if you look at almost any female Republican politician, having them doesn’t always help, either—but I know Hillary Clinton has got my back (especially the lower part where I get horrible menstrual cramps) on women’s issues. It’s a pressing issue for her because she’s lived it. She’s spent her entire public career fighting for us. And by the way, if you think the “establishment” is happy with that, you haven’t been fucking paying attention.
In a world that routinely reduces my value as a person to my sexuality and reproductive capacity, how can you get mad when I decide that, yes, THAT: me, my body, the issues that affect my body and bodies and hearts like mine, that people in power who care about those issues and understand them and fight to defend our autonomy and value us as humans, that these are the most important things to me? Other things matter, but nothing brings me more fucking joy and pain in this entire world than being woman. Progressive men are fine. If they value reproductive rights and feel that yes, it does deserve to be mentioned during a campaign in 2016, the year after howevermanydozens of state legislatures attempted to reduce access to reproductive healthcare and we still only earn 77 cents on the dollar and paid parental leave is a fucking fantasy wrapped in a pipe dream and rape and stalking and discrimination are not only still an epidemic, but are LITERALLY a joke to so many people, great. But there’s no one I trust more with an egalitarian future than a feminist. Men can be and are feminists and feminist allies! Bernie Sanders is surely one of these men sympathetic to the cause. But it’s not a top priority to him. (He seems to think economic reform will end discrimination? Okay. It can’t hurt!) I’ll vote for him if he gets the nomination, but his deal is not my deal.
Because guess what? Feminism is my #1 issue. Hillary Clinton is a fucking feminist. Not only would her election be massively symbolic, it would be hugely inspiring to girls and women and everybody who dreams of a feminist future. And she would actively work to improve our lives. Us. Those of us fighting discrimination in our communities (including the comedy community, speaking of more stuff that is depressing me lately). Those of us who live with the reality of our humanity constantly being degrading by society, by politicians, by everything we watch on TV, by abusers and rapists, by gross dudes catcalling on the street, and by people we know and love who make carelessly sexist comments and underestimate us on the regular. To be real, I’m having trouble writing about this in a coffee shop without tearing up a bit, and it’s probably only 43% because I’ve gone off my anti-depressants again. But I won’t be ashamed that this is how I feel. I won’t be guilted or shamed into supporting somebody else because it’s the appropriately “progressive” thing to do. I can’t “correct” my feelings any more than you can.
I will admit: I am not an idealist. I don’t know that I ever have been one. Perhaps this is a flaw on my part and I’m sure we could draw a pretty straight line from being born into what basically amounts to a millenialist cult and my feelings now. If you think the world is going to end in the next decade or two, why bother trying to change shit? I’m also clinically depressed and have been disillusioned too many times and I’m pretty comfortable keeping it all at a distance with my snarky cynicism and also booze. But I can’t change my past any more than I can change the fact that Hillary EXCITES ME. She gives me hope, and hope is not a thing I take lightly. Her steely determination is something I admire and envy. How, after decades of not just the everyday discrimination thrown at women in a patriarchal society, but somebody specifically targeted by the media and society and her enemies and everyday people, can she still want to serve us?
It pisses me off just thinking about it, and I’ve been relatively sheltered from a lot of blatant harassment and discrimination in my life. I’m white and I’m middle-class and I’m attractive (TBH) and I can turn my anger into jokes. At least in the moment. When I get really angry, I cry, and I hate crying. The bane of my childhood was my brother deliberately provoking me for no goddamn reason except that he wanted to see me get angry, to make me cry. I was told to ignore him. I learned to not respond and then later to defuse the situation with a joke. Even later, I learned the art of an insult disguised as a joke. This is now my tactic of choice since being mean to men without at least the plausible deniability of comedy can be literally dangerous. But later, after I get home, after I reread that thread or relive the conversation, sometimes I get fucking mad. And sometimes I cry. And I hate myself and the world we live in that I can’t just be angry and emotional and let it all hang out. That this shit happens at all and I have to feel this way. Other times I think I handled it brilliantly; the joke put the gross harassing bar dude in his place or it was directed at somebody I know and maybe even like and people laughing at it made him realize he was saying or doing something shitty and now he's sorry and won't do it again. Sometimes it works and relieves the pressure for the moment. But there are so many horrible things that face us as women, jokes are not enough. So at the end of the day, the rage remains.
Hillary Clinton knows my rage. Hillary Clinton has felt a lot of rage, I bet. She’s earned it. I’m not just talking about the personal attacks, either. There gets to be a moment in which you’re just fucking sick of the sexism. It’s exhausting it’s outrageous it’s offensive it’s blatant it’s immoral and you just can’t deal with it anymore. I’m grateful that Hillary Clinton is stronger than I am. Sure, it takes a massive ego to run for president, to think you can do that job. But she has taken that rage, that hopelessness that all of us as women feel at some point (or at all the points) and channeled it into a laser beam of ambition. Fucking good for her. FUCKING GOOD FOR HER. And for us.
To be honest, I’ve got several thousand more meandering words written about why I support Hillary Clinton that are less about my feelings and are more about pragmatism and politics. But fuck that. Those are all great reasons and part of why I support Hillary, but they’re not the real reason, the one at the base of it all. Truth is, I’m an angry woman. I want another woman in office; one who gets me and my anger and can do something about it. Sorry/not sorry if don’t think that’s a good enough reason. Vote for who you want; this isn't a campaign ad. But if you really can’t understand why this is important to me and many, many, many other women and people of various gender identifications, then I don’t care. You don’t get it. You can’t get it. Go ahead and tell me my politics are “terrible.” Reality is terrible. Go fuck yourself.