tmccarthy0's picture

    The Acceptable Woman: Sexism in Progressivism

    We've all heard it, many progressive men tell me, "Ahh Elizabeth Warren, I would vote for her". Elizabeth Warren is the election year "Acceptable Woman", even though she isn't running.   Thanks, good to know who the Acceptable Woman is as deemed by mostly white men.

    What those men don't understand is, even at times in her life Warren has been the unacceptable woman, every woman has been the unacceptable woman. We pushed it too far, we gave too much of our opinion, we didn't defer enough, we were unacceptable. The Unacceptable Woman this year and for many years had been Hillary Clinton. She is running and has a good chance to be President so the attacks on her character have been deep and sustained, they have been personal and insulting. The sustained attacks against Hillary Clinton are attacks that most women have endured universally. Not that we are running for the Presidency, but that we are always doubted and credit for our achievements are discounted,  we have endured the same attacks at one time or another in our lives. No woman escapes it, not one of us.  So the attacks seem personal they hit far too close to home. When progressives use right wing attacks on the only woman democratic candidate, I wonder why. I become appalled. I can't believe this is what the election is coming down to on the progressive side, deeply institutionally sexist attacks. I find them enraging and unacceptable, 

    While I am not voting for Clinton merely because she is a woman, in part I do think that it is time for a woman and HRC isn't just any woman, she has real accomplishments. She was Senator from New York, a Secretary of State, a First Lady, and unabashed liberal. I hope everyone reads the most excellent FiveThirtyEights article about Clinton as unabashed liberal.  Believe it or not, facts do matter.  I say this all, while not denying that Sander is also a liberal! Oh yes, they are equals here, they are equals. Why is that so hard to imagine that some of us see her as his equal, completely and totally.  According to the Enten article Clinton was one of the most liberal in the Senate.  Read the entire article it's very informative, and should ease the pains of those who believe HRC is some closet Republican lite.

    Clinton was one of the most liberal members during her time in the Senate. According to an analysis of roll call votes by Voteview, Clinton’s record was more liberal than 70 percent of Democrats in her final term in the Senate. She was more liberal than 85 percent of all members. Her 2008 rival in the Democratic presidential primary, Barack Obama, was nearby with a record more liberal than 82 percent of all members — he was not more liberal than Clinton.

    Yet  according to so many progressive men and some women, Clinton isn't trustworthy, and she is just a corporate shill Republican lite.  I guess her actual record doesn't count, while the man in the race, Sanders, his voting record does count he is a liberal and even if his record on guns isn't the best the rest tell us he is a liberal.  But she can't be trusted, not even the factual review of her voting record tells us anything about her, because she is hiding her Republicanism, even if we can't see it, she just simply can't be trusted. Why is that? Is it really because she is ambitious? Do men really hate ambitious women?  My husband really loves me, and I am quite ambitious. I don't understand, because men are allowed to be ambitious, even Sanders is allowed to be outwardly ambitious.

    I continue to try to figure our what it takes to be the Acceptable Woman in the crowd of progressive men who love Bernie. I get that you love your candidate, I just wonder why you have to often resort to very sexist attacks to support your candidate and then never admit they attacks are sexist in nature. I have read much on this site alone of Unacceptable Women being referred to in ways that are completely unacceptable.  HRC's anecdotes of her life have been doubted and even when women point out we've all had the same experiences, progressive men dismiss that, and make claims there is no way someone who married a future President can lay claim to the everywoman mantle, even though Sanders is the everyman. Each detail of her life is doubted out of hand, men don't suffer that constant drone of doubt about their lives. 

    Hillary of course has contributed most greatly to improving the lives of impoverished woman and children. It is what she dedicated herself to from the beginning of her career, yet she gets no credit for all of the things she has done for those causes. We've discussed CHIP at length and yet she gets not credit. I have to tell you, women go through their lives not getting proper credit for their hard work. She is the everywoman and she is the Acceptable Woman to many of us.  She has worked hard, she is smart, she continues to learn and evolve, but she is being held to a different standard, the standard that no woman can achieve, because she is no the Acceptable Woman.  I guess when we recognize there is such a thing as institutional sexism and only then can we make strides to change that, one great change of course is the election of a woman president. Not just any woman either a very accomplished woman in her own right, who possesses all the character traits needed to be President of the United States.

    The more virulent the attacks on HRC's character, the more I not only identify with her, but the more I want to outwardly defend her, support her, talk to other women, teach you all a lesson, because she represent our experience in a way you can never know. We are witnessing it presently, we are competent and smart and can do the job and have big difficulties getting the men in charge to accept those facts.

    Some additional reading:

    Gender and Language: Challenging the Sterotypes

    Language and Gender and Advanced Resource Book.

    Institutional Sexism is Closer to Home than you Think

    Institutional Sexism

    Everyday Sexism

    PS I reserve the right to come back and edit for clarity.


    There are 5 lines that probably should be separated to some degree (started out as 2)

    1) Hillary as just riding on her husband's coattails, enabling his affairs/attacking his abused prey, Nixon-in-a-pantsuit/cleavage-gate, lesbian hanging dildos on the White House Christmas tree, killing Vince Foster and 20 others black widow style, cackles-Chris Matthews "makes me want to cross my legs", not-the-right-woman/anyone-but-Hillary (but attack Palin in same sexist tones, )...

    2) Hillary in purity test - didn't support gay marriage early enough (wiping away at least a decade of gay support), voted "for Iraq" (ignoring her statements at the time and the raft of Democratic and international males that voted the same way), failed on health care/doesn't go far enough (wiping away 1993-4, SCHIP, her 2008 proposal that largely became Obamacare, and anything since), beholden to Wall Street (gives Biden a pass on the same matter, ignores every counter-Wall Street move she's ever made), inexperienced (ignoring her actual policy role in the White House on health care, McGovern campaign & Watergate committee, time as Senator and SoS, and ignoring Warren's lack of experience while consistently discrediting Hillary's). Cue up Harry Eaton/538 on this one to counter the silly "DINO"/right-winger charges.

    3) There's Hillary on defense - Libya, Syria - and comments re: Snowden, go-it-slow on "researching marijuana more", et al - there are areas where she's quite conservative, too safe, willing to go along with some bad ideas.

    4) There's "untrustworthy" and other issues from Confirmation Bias, where repeated often enough from news media/editorials to opposition to fellow Dems - "do you think Hillary's untrustworthy or does she just come across that way?" - over the decades is just a steady background of Hillary-hate. Add in insincere, cold (despite all indications contrary), etc. - largely goes along with #1.

    5) Then there's dog whistle steady bias, the it's-not-okay-to-be-female-but-would-be-okay indications that come across. Hal's a local poster-child for this phenomenon, but certainly not the only. Here should probably be "women shouldn't be voting just for a woman" tied to "any woman but that one" and the variety of ways it's layered.

    That's 1 area that's negative, 1 that's basically a tilted cherry-picked expectation, 2 that are largely unfair & ad hominem (ad feminem?), and 1 that is insidiously still unspoken. #5 should probably be elaborated on, since us dogs largely don't hear all our whistles. [Clinton Charity Foundation probably belongs in there somewhere, but not sure quite where. Corporate Hillary should probably be split up in several as well.]

    Update: "Shrillary" and "kitchen sink" - what more do we need?

    Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin notes that Trump has managed to get the press to focus on Trump's fame rather than substance. On the other hand, there is very little focus on how Trump treated staff or managed to accumulate $4.5 billion in business debt, how he treated his staff, etc. There is no attention paid to white supremacists who support Trump's campaign.

    Hillary sat through an eleven hour grilling on Benghazi without batting an eye. She also sent aides to Flint, Michigan to try to help the Mayor rather than just talk about the disaster. Hillary will fare better when she faces a more diverse electorate than found in Iowa or New Hampshire. The Mayor of Flint was clear that she supports Hillary Clinton.

    Edited to correct typos

    Logical fallacy:

    1. Sexists attack women's characters

    2. Hillary Clinton is a woman

    3. Bernie Sanders supporters attack Hillary Clinton's character

    Ergo, Bernie Sanders supporters are sexist

    Fallacious recap of argument. Try:

    1) some Bernie supporters make sexist comments/use sexist framing

    2) ergo some Bernie supporters sexist.

    I'm seeing a broader brush here--an implication that most if not all of the character attacks on Hillary are rooted in sexism. But I acknowledge that it's implied, rather than stated, so maybe I'm reading it wrong.

    I broke it down to 5 categories above, so obviously I had a different impression.

    I like how you broke it down. You really are a feminist. I like that. 

    Sure, he supports Hillary Clinton, he must be a good feminist. This kind of tautological silliness should be beneath you. She has a good resume and has done a lot. She also has done enough to give a lot of us serious pause about her without fake claims of hidden bias. You don't have to accept that for it to be true. Best of luck to her if she's nominated, but your piece tilts at a narrow-bore fake problem. Like Lena Dunham saying no one ever said a man was too establishment or wooden. Hard to believe smart people think such twaddle is true.

    Of course you're so right. CUNT t-shirts and WaPo front page stories on cleavage and enabling spouse's predatory behavior and Yale law school grad riding his coattails and disgusting taking too much time in the toilets and Chris Matthews saying she makes him want to cross his legs and Nixon-in-a-pants-suit just means she's a bitch - nothing sexist about it. Just tautological silly season, like when women get their periods or in her case menopause - all that cackling nonsensical behavior.

    I mean, we of course consult actors like Lena Dunham to get their opinions on male politicians simply all the time, because she has a show called Girls so she'll understand so like, get over it already - it's so 5 minutes ago. Maybe we can get a Sex & the City appraisement of Hillary from Sarah Jessica Parker as well.

    By the way, who the fuck are you besides some fuckwad who showed up on the scene 12 secs ago and we'll never see again? Oh yeah - douchebag, perfect word for when you can't flush him down the toilet immediately. Touché, ass-wipe.

    Oh shit, violated Terms of Use again. Memo to self - stop that.

    I wish I could blow ass-holes off as well as you do.  Seriously, you should give a conference.  I'd sign up!

    I actually don't say that anywhere, I don't believe I imply it, what I am saying is,  it seems there are progressives willing to use Republicans swipes against feminists and feminism to attack HRC which is the antithesis of what they are supposed to be.  But you can read into what you want, I acknowledge that it could also be read your way, I guess. 

    Tmc, I guess that I didn't see most of the examples you listed as "Republican swipes." The accusation that HRC is untrustworthy is not inherently partisan, and the fact that Republicans make this accusation shouldn't prohibit non-Republicans from saying the same thing. The criticism that HRC is "Republican lite" isn't Republican at all. To the contrary, Republicans call her a left-wing extremist.

    Moreover, many people see very real and important differences, not only between HRC and Bernie but also between HRC and Elizabeth Warren. The pro-Warren folks were deeply critical of HRC long before Bernie got into the game, which is why they tried so hard to draft her. Bernie was just a consolation prize. To these people, Warren is not the Acceptable Woman, she's the Dream Candidate.

    None of this is to say that sexism against HRC does not exist. I have even seen it at dagblog and have had to unpublish a virulently sexist diatribe. But if you're going to call out sexism against HRC, I want to see clearer examples and a tighter focus on attacks that are obviously sexist, not just critical.

    I am not ignoring you MW, I promise to respond with all the links necessary, I hope to do it by Sunday, it's  6 day work week this week... Romeo and Juliette season. But I think you make valid points. 



    Okidoki, here we go, I think you want links. Let's deal with Elizabeth Warren first and the time she wasn't the Acceptable Woman, because it actually wasn't that long ago.  It isn't because of Warren's policies at the time that she is being critiqued for 

    Meghna Chakrabarti: Tell us what you think is wrong with the Warren campaign.

    Dan Payne: It’s her advertising. Her television commercials seem to turn off people. Women have told me they find her hectoring, they don’t like her attitude, she’s school marmish. These are the opinions of people who support her.

    They find her hectoring... hmmm, if you read the article it is quite maddening. So like I said, even though she is the Acceptable Woman, currently, she also was the unAcceptable woman, which always happens. Which is what I also state above, this isn't really a proving contest for women, this is a, yeah, we have all been her, and this has been a very maddening and annoying experience for some of us.

    HA Goodman, I think he writes for Huff and Salon, is a great one for using Republican attacks against HRC. I don't actually know who he is and he just seemed to appear this year, but maybe because he is so virulent in his attacks on HRC's character is the only reason I've ever heard of him. Who knows. 

    Walter Bragman, Salon, also a guy who uses Republican attacks against her.

    1) Hillary’s personality repels me (and many others).

    He begins his critique with her personality?? And this Bragman fellow actually writes a blog saying let's let the GOP have four years, we can't allow HRC to be elected?? Umm, how Republican does that sound to you, I've heard my father is say it to me, just about two weeks ago, my dad is not a Democrat.  I don't know, these are some upper-middle class men, who always get by, so for him, he doesn't give a rats ass what happens, women have to care, that is a major difference here, we have to care, or we lose everything. 

    Here and there DAG itself is smattered with Republican attacks against HRC, attacks on her responsibility for her husbands philandering to me are Republican Atwater style attacks.  I don't expect them from progressives, I am always pretty shocked when it happens. 

    I have more:

    Men Explain Hillary to Me: Michelle Goldberg




    I don't know if this embed is working so here is the link to the horrifying video, sheesh, please don't tell me even liberals aren't infected but this sexist BS. The one guy who tries to defend HRC is shot down instantly and he is instantly swayed, WTF? They are saying all the things Republicans have ever said about her.  I don't know. I guess I could gather 100 links and it might not be enough, so I'll leave you with that.

    Now off to painting the family room.

    edited to add: The Sanders campaign is pretty worried about this. 


    You might want to touch on how Howard Dean's wife was treated - the nerve that a professional doctor wouldn't just turn into a campaign mule. And I think there was something about her looks - or maybe a lot about her looks. Welcome Maureen Dowd, the scourge of feminism in the name of feminism, or just concern trolling from the dependable NYTimes. [yeah, she wasn't the candidate, so slightly off-topic, but still related]

    And there is this point as well. She just wanted to do her job, and stay out of politics like she always had, nothing is ever good enough. 

    Sorry, yes, I thought that was the main point - guess I didn't say it.

    Great links, Teri.  Thanks for putting the work into it.  Very useful.

    Thanks for the links, TMC. There is definitely sexism at work here, as I acknowledged before, but I think we should be careful about what we're calling sexist.

    1) Attacking Hillary is not inherently sexist. This is what happens to candidates in a contentious election.

    2) Attacking Hillary's character or personality is not inherently sexist. Women have personal flaws just like men, and those flaws are fair game in politics. No one bats an eyelash when people attack Ted Cruz's personality.

    3) Attacking Hillary using Republican talking points is not inherently sexist. Sanders supporters naturally look for Hillary's weaknesses. That they emphasize the same weaknesses as Republicans does not make them sexist.

    4) Being an asshole is not inherently sexist. If you think Sanders' supporters are being mean to Hillary, you should read what Republicans are saying about one another.

    That said, any of these attacks may be sexist. The telltale giveaway is gendered language. When people use words like "bitchy," when they complain about ambitious or aggressive women, when they criticize Hillary's feminism, or when they accuse her of trying to be manly, it's obvious misogyny, and we should call it out.

    Of course, misogyny can be veiled, but then it's a gray zone. Maybe someone hates Hillary because he's sexist. Or maybe she just rubs him the wrong way. It happens. And it doesn't serve Hillary well for her supporters to accuse anyone who dislikes her of harboring sexist attitudes.

    Thanks for this Terry, and also Perecles and rmrd.  I needed this.

    Thanks Jan. I needed it too, it's been on my mind lately, and bugging me.

    Blah blah white feminism... I hope lucy flores becomes the first woman president. ... after bernie wins this election. 

    Hope away - she looks ready to finish 4th for Democratic nominee for Congress. But I guess since she endorsed Bernie, she's golden.

    I get to thinking that LisB was right: what is the difference, a dem Prez will not be able to work with a repub Congress.

    I like Hillary, I have always liked Hillary; in 2008 I wrote at least a few times that I would vote for a ticket with Hillary and Barry without regard to who would head the ticket.


    Hell you women could not even vote until 1920?

    Obama has done well appointing women in his cabinets and his staff.

    Here is one goo idea?

    Why not pay for ads that demonstrate how anti-women people like rush, or Levin, or .....really are.

    I love Barry, I really do.

    But I trust that Hillary is a genius of sorts; Hillary has lived through what works and what does not work.

    Nice post!

    Thanks Arthur! Yes you will always be our Arthur and the head of our Round Table. 

    As long as we're dealing with Mr. Day's Mythical Imagery - here's a dove for you, you old bird. When did they start singing for you?





    I love that sometimes I wish we just had a like option here. 


    I have not listened to it for many years.


    Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, is in Iowa campaigning for Hillary. I had forgotten the Richards got hauled before a sham committee in Congress. The wingnut were in full misogyny mode.

    The bogus videos that ant-abortion activists used to falsely accuse Planned Parenthood of selling baby parts led to an investigation by the Republican AG of Texas. The result is that Planned Parenthood was cleared of wrongdoing and two anti-abortion activists were indicted.

    Time for women to take on the wingnuts head on.

    Thanks, rm. I was hoping someone would point out the astounding TX Planned Parenthood investigation result.

     It was an amazing decision, thanks for posting it rm!


    The question group identity voters should ask is "which candidate is best for my group"?  The question some group identity voters are asking is "which candidate is in my group"

    Hillary has the support of the black voters most likely to cast votes in the general election.

    What is it about Clinton do you think that appeals to "the majority of black voters most likely to cast votes"?

    Hillary is viewed as more likely to actually get things done. I repeatedly point to Flint as an example. Bernie called for the Governor to resign, a non-starter, at least at this point. Hillary sends aides down to actually talk to the Mayor and try to help. The Flint Mayor endorses Hillary.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates responded to Bernie's comments about the recent reparations article. In his response, Coates notes that minimum wage programs that lift all boats will not be corrective because of the ongoing problem of racism.

    Bernie's problem is that black voters see him focusing on class issues and missing the racial aspects of life in the U.S.

    Thanks RMRD.  I appreciate this explanation.

    You are welcome 

    The other problem for Sanders is that Obama recently gave an interview with Politico that seemed to favor Clinton. Obama noted that Clinton is a pragmatist.

    A Sanders surrogate criticized President Obama. If this little dust up comes to be seen as Sanders directly confronting Obama, Sanders will alienate many black voters.

    Democratic State Representative Justin Bamberg, an attorney who represents the family of Walter Scott, has announced he is switching his support from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders.  He attributes Clinton's current level of support in South Carolina to name recognition.

    Bamberg was on "Hardball" today. Chris Mathews began with a clip of Walter Mondale saying that he would raise taxes (nothing that Reagan would raise taxes too, but just would not say so publicly. Mondale lost. Mathew's asked how Sanders would pay for free college education, single-payer, etc. Baumberger that he really didn't know  It was not a stellar performance. Once the Republicans begin direct attacks on the upfront coasts of Bernie's plan, the air will come out of the poll numbers balloon.

    That would be too bad since the near-poor in red states, who are disproportionately African-American, stand to benefit most from Medicare-for-all.

    They would benefit from single payer and they would have benefited from wining the Lottery. The odds of single-payer getting through a GOP controlled Congress is equal to the chances of a Lottery win. Single-payer couldn't pass in Vermont.

    Assuming you're correct RMRD, how can we work together to elect candidates like Bernie across the nation so all Americans get the healthcare and, more broadly, the economic justice that we deserve?

    Voting in midterm elections would be a first step in keeping wingnuts out of office. Fighting voter suppression as is being done in North Carolina is another step. Educating voters as to what Progressives propose vs what Conservatives propose is essential. The bas of the Republicans want a dictatorship. They do not want compromise on any issue. Thus we have Emergency Managers and poisoning of Flint, Michigan and wingnuts taking over government land in Oregon. Voters are going to have to be made to realize the true dangers of the Conservative movement before many Bernie's will get elected. The GOP will shut down government before seeing any true progress occur.

    I hope HIllary's firewall includes Cam Newton - screw New England - Carolina's looking better all the time.

    Go Cats! ;-)

    Careful - sexist framing warning....

    I'm curious and a bit worried that Ta-Nehisi Coates is ready to take the piss out of Hillary, for what I'm not sure.

    He himself notes Andrew Johnson was a rabid racist, but somehow her statement that Lincoln would likely have smoothed over Reconstruction is surrendering to old school racist memes, the Lost Cause and all.

    Do you think that's what she said, or Coates is overreacting, or some other interpretation? It's way too easy to toss a "racist" anchor around her neck and have it stick, and I'd guess black support can easily dissolve given the right (or wrong) framing, so am concerned.

    Update: Somerby notes Coates proclaiming Bill Clinton as passing "the most immoral 'anti-crime' bill in American history", despite 2/3 of the black caucus voting for it. We'll see where this ends.

    It's good to see you're evolving, PP not just an apologist for the Clinton Dynasty but now an apologist for the Black Misleadership Class going along with their leader. This is  the bitter fruit of the Civil Rights Movement's gains being incorporated into the corrupt, racist Democrat Party.

    An apologist a day keeps the Nyquil away. Wake me when it's over - I'm sure there's a point to be had if you've not been had enough.

    Your knowledge of the dynamics going on regarding crime and the black community in the 1990s is as faulty as a belief that King was a Marxist.

    Thank you, Teri.  Seems pretty clear to me!  Well done.

    Thanks Mona, most women I know see it plainly before their eyes. Most men, not all, seem the need for more proof. Sunday I will deliver that proof.


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