The thing most puzzling to me about this Presidential election is the prevalence of hate for Hillary Clinton. Its virulence, too. Whence does it arise ? Of course partisan overreach stokes much, but said overreach couldn’t find ground were there not voters — a great many — to fuel it.

I read the hate on social media especially. And there, after reading literally thousands of posts and comments, I find the answer : women.

Women do by far the majority of Hillary hate on social media. How can this be ? And again : the single most frequent reason raised by Hillary-hating women is the behavior of her husband. Because he violated his marriage vows — often — and, so the comments read, she fought fiercely to discredit the women that Bill Clinton seems to have dallied with, Hillary is blamed. Why is this a thing ? Isn’t it right that Hillary fought for her marriage any way she could ? Is that not praise worthy ? I say it is very praiseworthy.

It is said of her that by fighting for her marriage rather than divorcing or separating from Bill Clinton, Hillary ‘enabled” him. I find it scary that people feel entitled to judge the dynamics of someone else’s marriage. No one should ever do that. Nobody who isn’t in a particular marriage can know the workings of it, and even if they did know, it’s not their place to judge or butt in.

Why do Hillary hating women do this ? One suspects that many, many women are in sexual relationships in which the man betrays or belittles, and, looking for Hillary Clinton as a role model for push back — for freedom from a cad — because of her power and riches, they find instead an “enabler.” Far better that women should not look for role models, instead to be their own role model : but that is easier to say than be.

Then come the standard talking points : Benghazi, the e mails, the power politics wreaked upon Bernie Sanders. But I find all of these a convenient excuse, rather than the cause, for the basic generator of Hillary hate : women who feel disappointed — betrayed ? — by Hillary as an avatar of women’s love rights.

How easy it is, for women feeling betrayed by their wished for avatar to latch onto Trump as a convenient Hillary spanking. How better to beshrew Hillary than to salute a man who gropes women at will, has had three wives, treats women’s bodies like a fruit basket, and brags about it all ? One sees Hillary hating women for Trump glorying in baiting her duck : look, see ? My abuser of women is more brazen than yours ! And after all, your betrayer DID the wild thing, mine only talks about it !

And let us not forget the lessons of literature. It was not a feverish revel of men that, in Euripides’s play The Bacchae, tore a male interrupter in pieces. Truly, as the saying goes, “the female of the species is deadlier than the male. Why is this observation true ? My view is that as women’s lives have been squeezed small by the dominance actions of men, so women’s frustrations simmer very hotly, very very, and when they boil over, there’s no turning back, no cooling off.

And yet the election of Hillary Clinton as our next President will empower women. It will galvanize girls coming of age. It will change the dynamics, so that the dominances men have enjoyed will be seen for the manipulations they are. The women who hate Hillary may never reconcile with her triumph; even the masterful Queen Elizabeth could not assuage Mary Queen of Scots or her party; yet Hillary, like Elizabeth, has already her vast following of women who see her rise as far more important than her betrayal as a wife, for them she is THE role model, and that, I think, is major progress. And Hillary as President will be, for girls now born and those who will be born, even more the measure of women’s significance. The future of women will not be like the past, and the hate that buffets Hillary Clinton today will grow ever more beside the point.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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