2008 Clinton and the Boys
posted by November 5 at 13:38 PMon
You know, I certainly don’t want to belabor the tedious discussion about Clinton’s “gender problem,” but I do have to address a few points. As Eli noted earlier, after Clinton’s six male opponents ganged up on her during the most recent debate, Clinton’s campaign called it “the politics of pile on” and dismissed charges that she dodged questions. Later, Clinton told a crowd at Wellesley, her alma mater, that attending an all-female school prepared her for the “boys’ club” of politics, a statement the press and many bloggers have described as “playing the gender card.”
Dodging questions? Accusing opponents of piling on? Sounds pretty normal to me: She’s a politician, and like all politicians, she takes on questions she wants to answer, dodges the ones she doesn’t; and when her opponents pile onto her because she’s the frontrunner, she makes a note of it. I’m not sure dodging questions and slapping back at opponents would have been seen as “breaking, just like a little girl” (as Maureen Dowd described her) if a male frontrunner had done the exact same thing.
Second, it seems to me that so far, no one has been able to point once to anything said by Clinton herself that implies gender-based self-pity. The narrative that all the bloggers and political writers (and yes, they’re mostly male, and yes, that fact is relevant, although it certainly doesn’t disqualify them in any way from commenting) have glommed on to—“Hillary pretends to be strong but cries like a little girl when she’s challenged”—seems to be based solely on her statement that the political world is a “boys’ club.” That’s it. Nowhere has she brought up sexism. Nowhere has she used “gender stereotypes as a defense.” Nowhere has she “played the woman-as-victim card.” Some of her supporters may have done so, but Clinton herself? Nope.
However: If we’re STILL going to accuse Clinton of playing the gender card in the absence of any evidence that she’s done so, let’s be fair. Here’s a look at a few of the times MALE candidates have played the gender/masculinity card:
Shocking, I know! Can someone get the Politico on the horn?