Sexist Attacks on Hillary Increase Her Support Among Women Voters

First it was the cackle. Then it was her flash of anger,the team-attack on her by Obama and Edwards and the moderator saying she wasn't likeable at the debate. Then the media pile-on about her emotional moment. Then the men yelling "Iron my shirt" at her during a campaign event. Then Tweety Matthews saying she only won her New York Senate seat because her husband "messed around." Then the "Buddy System" crack.

The sexist attacks on Hillary have been brutal. The New York Times reports they are also moving women into her camp, even some who previously supported Obama and Edwards. [More...]

Even Democratic women with no intention of voting for Mrs. Clinton found themselves drawn into the debate and shaken by what briefly seemed like a humiliating end to the most promising female candidacy in American history.

Take for example, Amy Rees:

“I was really pained by the thought that her campaign really was over,” said Amy Rees, a stay-at-home mother in San Francisco who will vote in the California Democratic primary on Feb. 5. “I kept thinking that the truth is, a woman — even a woman of her unquestioned intelligence and preparedness — can’t get even a single primary win. It really stung.”

Ms. Rees had favored Senator Barack Obama of Illinois; now she is thinking of voting for Mrs. Clinton.

Or, Michelle Six, an Edwards supporter:

Michelle Six, 36, a lawyer and John Edwards supporter in Los Angeles, said she was horrified to hear Mr. Obama tell Mrs. Clinton she was “likable enough” in a Democratic debate on Saturday. Ms. Six said she found the line condescending, and an echo of other unkind remarks by other men about women over the years. The likability question, initially raised by a moderator, “wouldn’t be coming up if she wasn’t a woman,” she said.

When Ms. Six heard male co-workers mock Hillary after news of her "emotional moment",

With that, Mrs. Clinton “may just have earned my vote,” Ms. Six said, adding, “I don’t know if I was super-conscious” of the gender factor in the race before then.

Women are pointing out other instances as well.

Now that Mrs. Clinton has gone from a solid lead to a tie with Mr. Obama in the latest national Gallup poll, some voters are thinking back to incidents that they say now seem suspect to them: the debate in which Mr. Edwards critiqued the bright jacket Mrs. Clinton was wearing, or the one at which Mrs. Clinton was asked, by a woman, if she preferred diamonds or pearls.

73 year old Myra Dinnerstein got mad as hell:

A few hours later, after hearing about Mrs. Clinton’s victory in the New Hampshire primary, Ms. Dinnerstein wrote a celebratory e-mail message: “Hurrah! I think women got as mad as I was, seeing Hillary trashed. I think they realized that ‘the gender thing’ exists.”

Younger women may not feel the same way. Take Ms. Dinnerstein's 39 year old daughter, who will vote for Obama:

“Senator Clinton’s struggles are not my own, and they are not those of my generation of women,” the younger Ms. Dinnerstein said. “The idea of a woman being president just does not seem to be as powerful or as revolutionary to me as it does to feminists of my mother’s generation.”

Of course, the problems of minorities are not her own either. Yet she supports a candidate whose election as the first African-American President would be "powerful and revolutionary" for this country. I wonder whether that was a factor in her decision.

The elder Ms. Dinnerstein is a former women studies' professor. Maybe that accounts for her daughter's dismissive attitude. She sounds like she has a chip on her shoulder -- and, I'd point out, at 39, she's not a "young" voter.

It's interesting that in this two page article filled with personal stories of women, she is the only one who says Hillary's struggles are not those of her generation. Did the Times not look for others or couldn't they find any?

The Washington Post does a much better job of interviewing young women and says they are split. However, they ask a different question: Should Hillary be elected because she's a woman? Many answer, as would I, of course not. As I've opined before, no one should be elected President because of their gender or their race. The Presidency is too important to leave to anyone other than the best qualified candidate who is most equipped to handle the job.

But, that point is being lost. The reality is now that if men -- be they candidates or talk show hosts and pundits -- keep up the sexist garbage that is being thrown at Hillary, they will win this election for her.

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    . . . And (Some) Men Voters Too (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by john horse on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 05:53:10 AM EST
    re: "Sexist Attacks on Hillary Increase Her Support Among Women Voters"

    Lets not forget the Men Voters.  Some of us don't appreciate sexist attacks either.  

    That is very true (none / 0) (#8)
    by BlueLakeMichigan on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 08:24:08 AM EST
    People won't believe this because of my ardent support for Obama but it's a sick feeling I get when I read that CM tells staffers he HATES her. That's obscene and he shouldn't even be covering the race if he hates one of the primary candidates. That just makes sense.

    This is not good news (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 06:46:37 AM EST
    People voting for a candidate simply because they feel sorry for her is not a healthy way to choose a president.  That she is suffering slings and arrows, no doubt, but that is certainly no reason to ignore her cowardly and continual capitulation to Bush and the republicans.  Hillary, for all of her smarts and toughness, has never shown for a second the ability to stand up and be a fierce member of the opposition.  I'm no Obama partisan, but at least he had the brains to vote against this war in the beginning when it mattered, and when the slings and arrows were much more numerous and shot with greater velocity as those of us "traitors" who wouldn't go along.

    I don't feel sorry for "her" (5.00 / 0) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 09:53:16 AM EST
    I'm a "her" too and if campaign machines and candidates and voters think they can take this nation back 20 or 30 or 40 yrs on the sexism issue they can guess again.  The girls are tired of this and it looks like we mean to show everyone how tired of it we are.  Girls are flat sick and tired of this from "pie" at Orange to campaign trails.....I don't think we are going to be having anymore of this smack without applying just a touch of the personal power that each one of the "hers" calls her own and nobody can take away from us without killing us first.

    It Is More (none / 0) (#16)
    by squeaky on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 11:45:22 AM EST
    That if all the candidates are about the same, very minor differences in their positions, then things like this tip the scale.

    Your point would apply if she were a nothing, compared to the others.  


    I have to admit (none / 0) (#1)
    by chemoelectric on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 02:49:30 AM EST
    The misogyny of Tweety and friends makes us aware of what Ms. Clinton can handle, which probably is a lot. Misogyny from the other candidates counts against them directly; I wouldn't be surprised of it coming from Obama, because he's got some catching up to do in the wisdom department.

    Sexist? (none / 0) (#4)
    by jarober on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 05:54:07 AM EST
    I think you mistake cynicism for sexism.  Apparently, Republicans aren't the only ones who have doubts about her sincerity.

    Missing in all this: (none / 0) (#6)
    by wprange on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 06:59:42 AM EST
    psychoanalyzing the reasons why men predominantly vote for a man.
    Only women's vote get scrutinized and are subject to accusations of voting for `shallow' reasons. Why aren't the reports about candidates being hunters, or why questions about candidates being "genuine hunters" not scrutinezed. Do men (I'm one by the way) really think that the ability to shoot is of vital importance in international affairs? Do they assume the next president should be able to shoot Ahmedinejad in the face when he doesn't comply with US's demands?
    Being a genuine hunter is always perceived as a pre and good; a man having a genuine emotional moment is showing his softer side; a woman having a genuine emotional moment is suspect.
    What will happen when we see Hillary go on a hunt?

    she probably won't pull (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 08:18:28 AM EST
    a "cheney", and shoot one of her party in the face. lol

    What will happen when we see Hillary go on a hunt?

    the sexist, mysogonistic comments about sen. clinton have been coming for the past 15 years, this isn't anything new: dowd, limbaugh, coulter, hannity, rich, matthews, et al. all have made them, consistently.

    why? frankly, i think she scares the hell out of them all: smart, attractive, well educated, accomplished, good public speaker. all the things that the aforementioned group isn't.

    obama's comment i don't think, in context, was intentionally condescending. in fact, i got the impression it was meant jokingly, so i don't count that against him, i might have said something similar: "hey, she cleans up good!" lol

    bluelakemichigan: are ye daft, man! where have you been for the past few months, or is it that you're studiedly ignorant?

    i could go back through this site, and deconstruct your rant (and a poorly written rant at that.), line-item by line-item, but why should i? you'd just come up with some nonsensical blather, like any good troll does.

    before you make a public ass of yourself, do some research, right here, now, this very instant! i think you'll find all your questions have been addressed, many times. that you don't agree with how they were addressed is a different issue entirely.

    OK, my bad (none / 0) (#10)
    by BlueLakeMichigan on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 09:39:27 AM EST
    I wasn't thinking, "Let me go troll this blog today, yea!" I was just trying to vent and air my views on a blog I actually kind of like.

    It took me a while looking back at it but yes I made yet another error in judgment by posting while very upset. The post was out of place and it took a worthwhile topic and just spit on it. I am sorry and I don't want that sort of thing to be my calling card.


    Worried (none / 0) (#9)
    by magster on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 09:28:09 AM EST
    Racism on the one hand (shuck and jive) v. sexism on the other (Iron my Shirt) is probably the most divisive course this nomination can take.  Both Obama and Hillary have to publicly rise above and quickly.

    Finally something printed that (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 09:43:42 AM EST
    makes real sense to me and fits my life experience.  My brow started to furrow with the sneering about Hillary's "emotional moment" and I saw it labeled and heralded as every sort and kind of manipulation and/or weakness.  If a man shows subtle strong emotion on the campaign trail he's a deep empathetic being, he's a leader with  emotional intelligence.  And it would seem that if a woman does it she's manipulative or weak or most likely both....grrrrr.  Obama talking down to her I did not find out about until after "Iron my shirt".  "Iron my shirt" snapped me wide awake and I realized that Hillary bashing had finally found enough momentum that extreme abusive persons now felt safe enough to not even have to hang out on the fringes or stalk from the shadows.  I still support Edwards but if and when I must decide to take my support elsewhere I'm fairly certain I'll be going Hillary's way because I'm a woman who has managed to survive in this society for 42 yrs and also because Obama may have told Hillary that she was "likeable enough" but Hillary never told Obama that he was "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy"!  Someone is the more mature candidate here where race and gender come into play and it happens to be a girl.

    Just my opinion (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 09:56:59 AM EST
    but Obama has had plenty of support in dealing with bigotry and now Hillary has support in dealing with sexism.

    Canvassing for Clinton in NH (none / 0) (#14)
    by BDB on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 10:09:24 AM EST
    There was definitely a strain of male voter - a small minority, thank goodness - who oppose her because she's a woman.   It radiated off them.  We were told by one young man that she was "the devil."   An older man told us that he'd rather "shoot himself" than vote for Clinton.  Although I don't think he was going to be voting for Obama either.  I don't know who he voted for, but I'm pretty sure it was a white guy, most likely a Republican.

    While I think it's true that women shouldn't vote for Clinton only because she's a woman, I don't think taking her gender into account is irrational.  If you don't see much policy difference between the candidates, and clearly a lot of NH voters were having trouble making up their minds, and you're a woman drowning in a sea of media misogyny, I can see why you might think voting for the woman was your best decision.  Because, honestly, all else being equal, isn't a candidate who is likely to upend a sexist culture a good thing for women?  

    That's one of the things I hate about the whole "HIllary cried" crap (she did not cry!).  It implies women are moving to her for less than rational reasons when, really, you could say that for women voters, attacking the culture of misogyny by asserting their political power is every bit as important as some of the candidates' policy positions.  

    democratic (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jgarza on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 11:22:24 AM EST
    Sexist Attacks on Hillary Increase Her Support Among Women Voters

    This is true but lets remember it is democratic voters.  This may not be a natural defense in a general.

    True (none / 0) (#17)
    by BDB on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 11:50:25 AM EST
    Although it did pull in some independent women in NH.  If Clinton is genuinely being subjected to sexist attacks, I think moderate Republican women and independent women are likely to rally to her, especially if she handles it as well as she did in NH (and doesn't overplay her hand).  When Drudge left that bad pic of her up on his site and Limbaugh went on and on about how terrible it would be for the country to watch a woman age in the WH, it was a Republican operative who complained to Talking Points Memo, saying that this played very badly with Republican women.

    But, of course, this is just a guess.  The great thing about having the first woman contender and the first top-tier African American contender is that we don't really know how sexist or racist attacks will play out.  We can hope they turn folks off, but we don't really know.  That's what makes making history so exciting and so hard - there's no experience to really draw on about how to handle these kind of things on a national level.


    Should've Added (none / 0) (#18)
    by BDB on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 11:51:54 AM EST
    that it helps that the Republican candidates are largely a freak show at this point.  

    Seriously, I cannot believe any one of these people is going to be the Republican nominee.  Even John "100 More Years" McCain sounds crazier than usual.