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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

non president hilary clinton and dialectical feminism

The analytic bug... Hmm, it tickles. Anyway, I'm going to give in and say something about sexism that may well reveal my own sexism. I define sexism, by the way, as acting against sexism, no noble feelings rot counts.
During this election, on twitter, I followed Rebecca Traister, a journalist I respect. And I saw in her threads, very often, make statements about what Clinton wasn't "allowed", or couldn't "get to do", because of sexism. For instance, today: "God I wish she were allowed to just cry like the rest of us."  
Now this might seem like it is bashing sexism, being critical of the mass of sexism in the populace, etc. Traister could easily point to people threatening her, physically, using the word bitch or cunt, etc. So she is right, sexism exacts a price from every woman. But to my mind, under the surface, this kind of rhetoric just enables sexism. In fact, one of Clinton's problems as a politician is/ was that I think she hears a lot of this kind of talk. It made her shorten her punches, or not do things because the sexists out there wouldn't "allow" it.
But in fact the only way to blow the sexists out of there is to do precisely that. To show emotion, to cry or laugh, to not be "tough" - these may, or no, will evoke vile sexist comments. But there is no way that the vile sexist commenters are going to be appeased. Seventies feminists - dialectical feminists - saw the bind between criticizing sexism and practically reinforcing its dictums very well.
In fact, Clinton would not be a rich, famous and important woman if she was not always doing things that "aren't allowed". If she allowed her public persona to be governed by a strategy that cedes the right to self imaging to the sexist, she is not only not being "allowed", she is retreating. The scriptedness, the self-imaging along the most conservative lines, takes away the politicians best tool. Trump, an idiot in so many ways, knows people love self-fashioning - at least for a while. 

I am hoping that the next woman to run for president is not surrounded by enablers of sexism. It is ruinous. 
I think, in the end, this goes back to a patriarchal trope that Americans swallow whole: permanent strength. Strength and toughness are always good. Losers and whiners are always bad. We want our women "strong". As in a Hollywood action flick.
I think that's shorthand for fascism.When we are weak, we are "allowed" to be weak. In fact, often it is the appropriate response. The cult of toughness aborts one's feelings until the feelings abort themselves. Fuck that. Obama had his moments, and the one thing I really adored in him was that he was very low on the tough talk scale. He saw sometimes that the better move was to be weak. An unacceptable thought in hypermasculinized DC.

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