by Lexi Justice
I thought I was done talking about double standards from the 2016 Democratic primary campaign. But, much like Theon Greyjoy, I’m learning that what is dead may never die. And, honestly, I should have been prepared for this, considering the left is no better than the right when it comes to misogyny. So let’s dive in!
If you hadn’t heard that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had books coming out this week, I want some real estate under the rock you’re living under. What you may not have noticed is the way those two books are being covered, though I doubt much of this will come as a shock.
First off, let’s talk about how Hillary Clinton, the first woman ever nominated to an American major party’s presidential ticket, isn’t allowed to stop talking about how much she screwed up, ever. Even if she acknowledges that she screwed up (a thing she does with great frequency), unless she stops there, unless she refuses to point out that there were other factors related to her election loss, she’s “blaming everyone but herself,” she’s “dividing the left,” she “can’t just quietly accept her loss and move on.”
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Women are always expected to quietly accept that they weren’t good enough and then gracefully back out of any space in which they might try to talk about that loss while ruffling as few feathers as possible, especially if those feathers happen to be male. Men get to lose, men get to look bad, they get to say the wrong thing an infinite number of times, and somehow their words and actions remain valid, they are heard, they are welcomed back.
Which brings me to Sanders’s coverage in this whole thing. He, too, wrote a book about how we’re currently living this bizarre Cheeto-encrusted nightmare. The difference is it’s being touted as a way to somehow unify the left in America. Let that sink in. A man who can’t even openly state that abortion rights should unequivocally be part of the Democratic platform, who has spent decades trashing the Democratic party for not being left enough, is going to unite a party he wants no part of and doesn’t believe in.
A man who has worked in Congress for the past three decades, who owns three homes, whose wife is currently under investigation for misuse of college funds, is going to bring young, disenfranchised people back to the Democratic party. He’s going to lead the revolution. He’s not really sure how, but he knows he’s going to!
And meanwhile, every woman who has ever sat through a staff meeting or tried to introduce a new idea or, hell, get hired for a job she knows she’s qualified for, is watching this and having it reaffirmed yet again that even when we are trying to turn our losses into teachable moments, no one wants to hear from us.
We are having it reaffirmed, daily, as hard as Hillary Clinton is still going to bat for us and fighting for us to be heard, that we will not be. That we will be told that we lost, that we should get over it, that we don’t matter because we failed, and a failure is the worst thing a woman can be. There is no learning from a woman’s mistakes, there is only an opportunity to mock her, distrust her, and use her as a cautionary tale for all the women who come after her, lest they forget their place.
It would be so easy for us to let that happen yet again. It would be so easy to sit down and let it go, breathe it out like so many previous sighs of disappointment. Because we’re tired, and we’re fed up. But we owe it to all the women who came before us and all of the women that will come after us not to. We owe it to them to keep trying, to keep loving, to keep fighting. Because one day, maybe, in the not-so-distant future, we’ll nominate another smart, competent, experienced, ambitious, tireless woman to the presidential ticket in the United States of America.
And that woman is the one who will win.