The Election Reeks of Sexism, and We Need to Talk About It
Start writing a post
Politics

The Election Reeks of Sexism, and We Need to Talk About It

We constantly ask ourselves why Hillary is unlikable – and yet the answer is right in front of us.

22
The Election Reeks of Sexism, and We Need to Talk About It
The Boston Globe

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the 2016 election did exactly that. Just when you thought that Donald Trump’s comments toward women couldn’t become more appalling, he proved us wrong. And just when we thought that maybe, just maybe, the debates would act as a leveraging tool, revealing to us the more prepared, more insightful, and more politically capable candidate, they instead functioned as a breeding ground for vitriol and toxic masculinity. The year is still 2016, and we’re still totally screwed. Yet, as we wade through stories about sexual assault — pertaining to both sides — and are forced to endure Mr. Trump’s uncomfortable at best, despicable at worst cerebrations on sexuality and gender, we fail to identify a defining factor in setting the scope for media coverage in this election: sexism.

Yes, we hate accusations of sexism. They seem so intangible and arbitrary, thrown around by the dreaded feminists, and serve to disrupt our everyday banter and fun. While this isn’t even inherently a bad thing, and can probably benefit society, our aversion to claims of sexism, particularly in this election as it rises to salience, obstruct us from seeing the full picture. When we identify Hillary as inherently unlikable and throw out arbitrary reasons for it — perhaps it’s her disingenuity (or maybe not),or her cold demeanor (eh), or her politicking (not always) — we circumvent the narrative, and prevent ourselves from solving a problem that reinforces the glass ceiling. Women in power are held to higher standards, and are perceived negatively for their “powerful” attributes. If you don’t believe this claim, the 2016 election is here to act as a beautiful simulation, demonstrating all these claims in action.

To start with the most recent of the offenses, we can examine the sexual assault claims that have haunted both sides. To start, in a refreshing divergence from the norm, with Hillary, we’ve seen her husband’s transgressions come back to undermine her campaign. To be clear, I don’t intend to focus on the actual veracity of the claims of the women who claim Bill Clinton assaulted them, because it’s not my job to judge their sexual assault. Rather, we need to apply a critical lens to how these claims are being employed today, specifically within the context of Secretary Clinton’s campaign. When Mr. Trump brought these women to the debate, giving them seats, he wasn’t trying to amplify their voices, or their individual narratives. He wasn’t trying to rectify the situation of wronged women. He was using these women, and their trauma, as political pawns, positioning them as objects to represent Bill Clinton’s wrongs. And that’s exactly where the sexism lies. The disgusting political appropriation of sexual assault aside, we’re seeing these women — with their own lives, problems, and stories — being put into a box, and manipulated for Trump’s gain. It’s a sexist and gross mistreatment of the issue.

Even if we ignore the technical dynamics of this political power move by Trump, we’re faced with another problem. What point, exactly, is he trying to prove? Is it that Hillary is a sexual predator? That hardly seems logical, given that her husband is the one accused. Yet, of course, former President Clinton serves once again to be one of Hillary’s biggest assets and simultaneously, liabilities. When the Trump camp brings ghosts of Bill Clinton’s past to the debates, and references them in interviews, they reaffirm their commitment to defining Secretary Clinton — a highly accomplished woman in her own regard, regardless of your thoughts on her policies — by her husband. And this criticism is sticking, because America is buying it.

Of course, there is the argument that when Secretary Clinton learned of this assault, she was snarky and rude, silencing the women instead of empowering them and banding together to conquer sexual assault in an act of defiance. I will say it with definitiveness: Every woman deserves to have her voice heard, and no one claiming sexual assault should be silenced without justice. However, we have to consider the ridiculous standard we’re holding Hillary to. Not only are we defining her by her husband, we’re paradoxically holding her to a higher standard than him, which is, well, gross. The woman was cheated on, and while I admit that her reaction could have been more refined, she has the right to be angry, and she has the right to react. The crass attempts to dehumanize her reveal our internalized disrespect for female authority figures.

Finally, within the context of sexual assault, consider that both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have faced sexual assault accusations. While it’s objectively unacceptable that two of the most politically potent figures today boast this on their record, just examine the way these accusations have operated on the campaign trail. Clinton’s accusations reflect poorly on his wife; Trump’s slide off him in the wake of the leaked Billy Bush video. The video has engendered a national outcry, and while the media hints at stories on the manifest sexual assault allegations, more attention is diverted toward the video.

The leaked video with Billy Bush is terrible, and deserves every bit of backlash it has encountered. Yet, at the end of the day, why is Trump’s rhetoric more inflammatory than his actions? Perhaps it reveals our lack of understanding of the nuances of sexual assault, and our one-dimensional ability to only identify it at its most obvious.

Ultimately, many people hate politics, or at the very least, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is fair. What is not fair is brushing off the apparent and problematic sexism that pervades our perception of the election. While it may seem to only play out in the media and on the debate stage, it sends an incredibly strong signaling message to the American population of what is acceptable. Donald Trump’s words in his leaked video were reprehensible, yet he, probably inadvertently, was correct in one regard: If you’re a star, you can do anything.

Secretary Clinton bearing the burden for her husband’s actions reveals the impossibly high standard we hold women to, and why sexual assault survivors are so often undermined and mistreated. The shift in narrative from the alleged survivors of Bill Clinton’s assault to his wife’s unseemly actions de-emphasized sexual assault as an issue, and signals that ultimately, we don’t care about the survivors.

The year is 2016, and we’re still as sexist as ever. It’s time to call it out.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

7 Reasons SoCal Rocks!

75 degrees and sunny, plus, no humidity. I mean do I really need to say more?

106
woman in black and white long sleeve shirt carrying girl in red jacket in Venice beach
Photo by Jeff Hopper on Unsplash

SoCal summers are the best summers by far, and honestly, no argument is needed. But, if you aren't sure why SoCal summers are the best, here are 7 reasons why!

Keep Reading...Show less
Entertainment

25 Lyrics for Selfie Captions

Because let's be honest, we all use lyrics.

51851
woman takes a selfie for social media
Pixabay

Sometimes you can't think of the perfect caption for your Instagram post. I love using lyrics as my captions because there's so many great lines in songs that just seem to fit in the moment. Here are some lyrics that could work for your selfie or pictures of you with your friends!

Keep Reading...Show less
Entertainment

Bruce Springsteen's Top 7 Lyrics

Everything Bruce says in his classic rock songs.

18932
bruce springsteen album cover born in the usa

Anyone who was born and raised in New Jersey (or anywhere really) knows of Bruce Springsteen, whether or not they like him is a whole other situation. I hope that his hundreds of classic rock songs and famous high energy performances, even in his sixties he can put on better concerts than people half his age, are at least recognizable to people of all ages. Love him or hate him (I identify with the former) you have to admit that some of his songs and interviews have inspirational quotes and lyrics.

Keep Reading...Show less
Lifestyle

New England Summers Are The BEST Summers

Why you should spend your next summer in New England.

2298
Marconi Beach

Three years ago, I chose to attend college in Philadelphia, approximately 360 miles away from my small town in New Hampshire. I have learned many valuable lessons away from home, and have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in Pennsylvania. One thing that my experience has taught me, however, is that it is absolutely impossible to beat a New England summer.

Keep Reading...Show less
Entertainment

Fibonacci Sequence Examples: 7 Beautiful Instances In Nature

Nature is beautiful (and so is math). The last one will blow your mind.

238139
illustration of the fibonacci sequence
StableDiffusion

Yes, the math major is doing a math-related post. What are the odds? I'll have to calculate it later. Many people have probably learned about the Fibonacci sequence in their high school math classes. However, I thought I would just refresh everyone's memories and show how math can be beautiful and apply to physical things everywhere around us with stunning examples.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments