Damsel-in-distress feminism, the election, Trump and Clinton

Clinton's problem isn't sexism. It’s that she can't hide her chronic malignancies behind two well-worn shields of a bygone age – feminine frailty and 1970s feminism.


WASHINGTON, September 30, 2016 — If the first presidential debate accomplished anything, it brought into sharp focus the sorry state of modern American feminism.

joanNone other than the New York Times credited Hillary Clinton for standing up to “that common hazard of working while female: the sexist blowhard, the harasser.”

And no, they did not mean the serial sexual predator on whose political coattails she rode into the U.S. Senate and launched two campaigns for the highest office in the land – husband Bill Clinton. They meant her Republican challenger Donald Trump, who treated her with the same contempt he showed his GOP primary rivals – male and female.

Trump, you see, is an equal-opportunity disser.

During Monday night’s debate, Trump alluded to Clinton’s frail state of health, insisting, “She doesn’t have the stamina” to be president.

“Why doesn’t he just say that she needs more testosterone?” Patricia Bennett, an outraged Clinton supporter, complained to CBS News.

Trump implodes, Clinton fails to dazzle, America loses a debate

Jessica Bennett, author of “Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace,” wrote in the New York Times that “Mr. Trump’s behavior was also painfully familiar, reminiscent of the types of dismissals so many of us deal with every day.”

And Elana Sztokman at the authoritative website Everyday Feminism said the presidential election of 2016 is unique in that Trump has created “a heightened and exacerbated sense of anxiety” with his use of language, which she insists is “straight out of the handbook of toxic masculinity.”

Some of the traits supposedly listed in the “handbook” are:


  • Hillary Clinton, July 2015: “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information [on her private email server] that was classified at the time it was sent and received.”
  • FBI Director James Comey, July 2016: “E-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information,”


  • New York Times, Aug. 2016: “Pressed by the FBI about her email practices at the State Department, Hillary Clinton told investigators that former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had advised her to use a personal email account.”
  • Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, Aug. 2016: “Count [Colin] Powell as another casualty of Clinton’s long-running struggle to directly confront and accept the consequences of the decision she made regarding her email setup when she took over as secretary of state in 2009.”


  • Hillary Clinton, Twitter, Sept. 2015: “To every survivor of sexual assault… You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We’re with you.”
  • Juanita Broaddrick, Twitter, Jan. 2016: “I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton… raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now 73… it never goes away.”

  • Bill Clinton becomes Trump’s ‘fair game’


  • The Hill, the Clinton-Sanders debate, Brooklyn, April 2016: Clinton “was booed by audience members” after refusing to release transcripts of her remarks to Wall Street donors. “Instead, Clinton pivoted to her tax returns, claiming she’d released decades of documents while rival Bernie Sanders had released none.”
  • Clinton, first presidential debate, Sept. 26: “Maybe he [Trump] doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes… he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.”
  • Politifact, Sept. 27: “She’s [Clinton’s] ignoring other returns examined by New Jersey gambling regulators showing that Trump did pay taxes… for three of those five years… in the final two years he did not pay federal income taxes because, according to tax rules, he lost money each year… We rate it [Clinton’s claim] Mostly False.”


  • Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, May 2016: “Listen, I like Hillary a lot but she has got to stop this shouting bullshit. It comes across as insincere and phony and… it’s not necessary in the era of microphones.”
  • The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Feb. 2016: “She [Hillary] shouts. There’s something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating and I think that just jumps off.”
  • Rex W. Huppke, Chicago Tribune, March 2016: “She yells when she’s happy. She yells when she’s trying to make her voice louder. She yells when she’s mad, which seems like always since she yells so much.”


  • Clinton, Roosevelt Island speech, June 2015: “These Republicans trip over themselves promising lower taxes for the wealthy and few rules for the biggest corporations without any regard on how that will make income inequality worse.”
  • Bloomberg financial news, Sept. 2016: “Hillary Clinton is outraising Trump 20-to-1 among billionaires.”

Hillary Clinton’s actions certainly meet the criteria of “toxic masculinity.”

In reality, Clinton’s problem isn’t sexism. It’s that she can’t hide her chronic malignancies behind two well-worn shields of a bygone age – feminine frailty and 1970s feminism.

You see, Hillary Clinton is being judged on who and what she is. And so, in an attempt to excuse her many flaws, her supporters in the press and other organs of popular culture have crafted a new, novel and Clinton-specific kind feminism.

Call it damsel-in-distress feminism.

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