Not to long ago there was an editorial cartoon making the rounds with Hillary Clinton sitting at a desk and the world’s ‘bad people’ all yelling at her with her crying that they were all being ‘mean’ to her.
As anyone who can count to eleven, and keep their shoes and socks on to do so, can tell you that the cartoon, in so many ways, demonstrated an instance of misogyny. It was an example on how to put a woman candidate in an absolutely impossible situation.
Hillary Clinton is and has been a lightening rod for so many people for so long a period of time. She has many people who love her and many people who loathe her. She was a very outspoken First Lady for eight years and has been building a career in the United States Senate. One of the oft stated criticisms of her is that she’s cold and something of an ice princess. She just doesn’t show her emotion very much.
Then, of course, there was the famous exchange where she teared up. The question asked of her was quite personal in its town and the answer brought a tear to Hillary’s eye. This, of course, made her an overly emotional woman who wouldn’t be able to stand up to the ‘bad people’ in the world because they’d all make her cry.
But then, of course, a new statement. Hillary really is an ice princess and a very calculating actress who staged her tears.
Misogyny is alive and well in American culture and it raises its ugly head in far too many instances. Women who have a cooler demeanor, if you will, are ice princesses and not to be trusted. Women who tend to be more emotional are irrational and not to be trusted. Women who are complex and demonstrate coolness and emotion are, well, erratic. Instead of allowing women to be the complex human beings they are, attempts to dismiss them come from a wide variety of angles. So many of the questions posed to her, like the cartoon, are subtle and sometimes not so subtle attempts to diminish her because of her gender.
The fear, of course, for many isn’t that a woman could make a good President. They often don’t worry that she will do a poor job. Their bigger worry is that they would do a good job and demonstrate themselves to be very capable of doing the job. Imagine the number of female candidates there would be.
This is not to say that all people who are opposed to Hillary Clinton are doing so because of her gender. Many on the right loathe her because they have loathed the Clintons for a very long time. Many people on the left do not like Hillary Clinton because she tends to be a political moderate. Barack Obama plays to the left far better than Hillary while Hillary plays better to the center.
I believe that there have been trend to diminish women in recent years.
In church circles the world has changed. Some years ago the Southern Baptist Convention ordained women as clergy. They have since ceased and many of the women who were ordained are no longer considered to be so. For many of these women, fortunately, their congregations still embraced them or they found homes in other denominations.
Churches are also quick to quote St. Paul’s 14th Chapter in 1st Corinthians as proof that women are supposed to remain silent in church or that Jesus chose 12, all male, apostles. The city of 1st Corinthians is galling. Paul was addressing a particular issue in a particular church but also referencing something wider. Women were not, under Jewish Law and Custom, to receive any education about God, the Bible, or their faith. They were told by their husbands how to live their lives as Jews and that was it. In their religious life, the men had the knowledge and the women followed the rules.
As St. Paul wrote this letter, this was the world he was writing to. The problem with the women speaking in church had little to do with their gender and a lot to do with them not having much knowledge. Different era, different set of circumstances, Paul says something very differently.
As for the 12 apostles, they exist. The problem is that the Gospels do not all agree on who they were. And there was always Mary Magdalene who was a constant presence and of unknown status. But, the thing about the apostles is that theologically, Christianity begins with the profession that Jesus was raised from the dead. It is the resurrection that moves Jesus to the Christ, and changes the whole understanding of who and what he was. And the messengers of the first truly Christian message into the world were women. It’s funny how this gets left out of the dialogue about female clergy.
Hillary Clinton may or may not get the nomination. She may or may not be elected. She may or may not be an effective President. If she fails it will have little to do with her gender and more to do with her abilities. People have said that if she got elected and failed, it would mark the end of women in politics. A poor female leader is a poor leader who happens to be female. The rest of the gender ought not to be judged by one woman. After all, we have suffered through many bad Presidencies in our history, all white men. No one seems to say that white men ought not be elected. People are individuals and ought to be viewed as such, men and women alike. To diminish people because or gender is dreadful behavior and I hope that people get beyond it.