In the era of #MeToo, a woman is only worth her weight in sisterhood.
I’ve always had a complex relationship with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Some of my earliest memories are of her – her pantsuits, her not-baking cookies, her middle name. My dad always insisted on using her maiden name, Rodham, when he spoke about her — sometimes just calling her Hillary Rodham. It was clear he did not like her or the kind of woman she was; the kind who inserts her own last name into her husband’s.
Although I was taught to despise her, I couldn’t help admiring Hillary. She was a boss. She seemed like the kind of woman who would take zero crap and would always have your back. If that’s what a man-hating godless feminazi looked like, it didn’t look so bad (minus the big bangs).
My relationship with HRC has waxed and waned over the years. Freshman year of college, reveling in my new-found libertarianism, I wrote an article for the school paper titled, “Hillary: The New Face of Communism” accompanied by my cartoon of her hanging out with Lenin and Marx. Suffice to say I wasn’t a big fan – at least politically.
A decade and many degrees to the left later, I plugged my nose and voted for her in November 2016. Because, well, Trump. Despite my reservations about her hawkish foreign policy and imperialistic politics, she was a far-cry from the pussy-grabbing Mexicans-are-rapists orange man. And after all, Hillary had spent years championing the rights of women and girls – remember her famous, “women’s rights are human rights”?
But on Sunday, in a now viral interview clip, Hillary dug an early political grave for herself. The champion of girls, advocate for women’s equality, turned her back on us.
In an interview with CBS, she said the “affair” between former President Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky was not an abuse of power because Lewinsky “was an adult.” Forget the fact that Lewinsky was only 22 and Bill 49 at the time: A boss having an affair with his subordinate, an intern, is inherently manipulative. It’s even more so when that boss happens to be President of the United States.
Sadly, Hillary’s actions don’t come as a shock. She’s dismissed a number of accusations (some credible) made against her husband over the years. In 2008, she refused to fire a campaign advisor who was accused of sexual harassment. This isn’t the first time Hillary has been on the wrong side of predatory masculinity but it’s the first time since #MeToo, with the Kavanaugh hearings still burning in women’s brains.
As some have rightly pointed out, Hillary shouldn’t be held accountable for the actions of her husband. And it sucks that she hitched her trailer to an Arkansas sleaze ball some 40 years ago. But Hillary is responsible for how she responds to her husband’s actions. She is responsible for holding power accountable and defending victims. After all, isn’t that what she built her political career on?
Too often, women have survived by stepping on the backs of other women to reach male power and acceptance. Women’s survival, especially white and wealthy women’s survival, has historically been at the expense of lower-income women and women of color – the lesser privileged among us.
As one of the most powerful women in the world, Hillary is especially responsible to other women. And she’s neglected that responsibility for years now in favor of standing by her man. You’ve heard the saying, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”? Well I don’t know about hell, but Hillary’s definitely in political purgatory. In the era of #MeToo, a woman is only worth her weight in sisterhood. And Hillary Clinton has proven herself irrelevant.
Jessica Schreindl is a nonprofit manager and freelance writer in Seattle, Washington. Her work has been featured by The Establishment, Medium, Mic, Ravishly, HuffPost, and Feministing. She graduated with her M.A. from Syracuse University where she studied film history and documentary filmmaking.