Strong Leader or Witchy Woman?
The New York Post proudly ran a cover showing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with her fists clenched at the Senate hearings on Benghazi . The cover wasn’t about the hearings at all. It looked more like Bill Clinton was supposedly cowering in fear of his witchy wife, who was having some sort of temper tantrum.
This is one of the best examples of sloppy tabloid “journalism” of a tawdry and personal nature. I could go on about the the over-the-top phrasing, such as “explodes with rage”, or the obviously biased statement of “pols ripped her handling of the Benghazi debacle” (there was no “debacle” beyond that the original attacks occurred). That is not what I will write about today.
No, the subject of this little rant is the underlying assumption that a forceful woman speaking her mind and vigorously defending herself is somehow out of control, and a threat to any nearby man. This is offensive to women and to men, and even worse, it’s categorically wrong.
First let me speak for myself: outspoken women are awesome. They get things done, they speak the truth as they see it, and they have a way of looking at things that encompasses the needs of today and of the future. Hillary Rodham Clinton is not going sit in the back and be quiet; she is the Secretary of State. It is her job, above all to defend this country and its interests fearlessly.
Her post as the Secretary of State itself is due respect, but has been shown precious little by the likes of Rand Paul and Ron Johnson. They deserved whatever smack down they got.
If the New York Post wanted a snarky cover, why didn’t they have a picture of a crazy-looking Rand Paul, with his hilarious “If I were president I would have fired you” comment? Then huge headlines “AS IF!” That would have been accurate and funny.
If this were just one cover on one trashy “newspaper”, I would probably just let it go. Post readers are probably too far gone to save anyway. But this assumption that men are threatened by strong women still prevails in enough social backwaters in America that it often creeps into the mainstream.
But I would ask the readers, especially the men: what about in your own life? The women you have known, do they scare you? When you talk with a woman, do you want her to nod her head, laugh at your jokes, but otherwise keep quiet? If you have made it this far into this article, I doubt you said yes.
Make no mistake, this is a conservative world view. The Post wasn’t talking to progressives with that cover, they were going for lovers of snark, haters of the Clintons, and people still living in the dark ages socially. Conservatives truly believe women should sit in the back and be quiet, unless they need them to act as a token, for PR purposes.
Karlyn Bowman, a “Senior Fellow” at the American Enterprise Institute, recently said: “I’d like to glue Cathy McMorris-Rodgers to John Boehner, I want her there everyday or someone like her everyday, because I think it’s very important, optics matter.” Optics? Are women still considered arm candy in today’s America? And the person who wrote this quote is another women. It shows that conservatism runs so deep in some people, they lose all their other identities. (PS: read that link, the thinking of conservatives is largely revealed, and it isn’t pretty. They are concerned with tricking women to vote for them, and not in any way addressing real issues.)
Here’s the bright spot in all of this: strong, outspoken women will not shut up and sit in the back just because some troglodyte conservative men and women want them to. That’s the cool thing about being strong, others can never define you, you define yourself. Bill Clinton, or your husband, or your male employees can take care of themselves. To the conservatives spreading this message of dis-empowerment: good luck getting women to vote for you with that approach. Your demographics are shrinking faster than a wicked witch hit with a bucket of water. Time to bury you, and the witchy metaphor, in the landfill of history.