'Era of the Bitch'

Will a Clinton presidency bring about a new wave of public misogyny?

Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, March 8, 2016. (Richard Perry/The New York Times)

While a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a historic event, the smashing of this nation’s highest glass ceiling, Michelle Cottle, writing for The Atlantic, fears that it would also usher in “four-to-eight years of the kind of down-and-dirty public misogyny you might expect from a stag party at Roger Ailes’s house.” Cottle has dubbed it “the era of the Bitch,” warning readers to brace themselves for the “in-your-face sexist drivel” that political bigots will use to dismiss and delegitimize the first woman president. “Just as Barack Obama’s election did not herald a shiny, new post-racial America, Clinton’s would not deliver one of gender equality and enlightenment,” she writes. “So goes progress: Two steps forward, one step back(lash). As the culture changes, people resent that change and start freaking out, others look to exploit their fear, and things can turn really, really nasty on their way to getting better.” Cottle points to the pointedly sexist language used by Trump supporters (branding her a bitch, a c**t — and worse) at rallies and on social media — which is likely to only get worse if she wins election to the nation’s highest office. But Leonie Huddy, a professor of political science at Stony Brook University, says she is even more concerned  about more insidious forms of gender negativity.  “There are plenty of gender stereotypes still available to say, ‘Maybe a woman isn’t up to this,” which could help erode “mainstream” opinion even among people who are in favor of gender equality. To deal with the situation and avoid setting up Clinton for failure, Cottle suggests that her supporters should try to “control their expectations” of what she can achieve as it is extremely difficult to change the institutional status quo and the presidency remains a “highly masculinized office.” She also advises readers to speak out against sexist attacks and take care to not look at any of Clinton’s “inevitable stumbles and failures” through the lens of gender (as male presidents’ bad decisions are never attributed to their maleness). While backlash is inevitable, she argues, it is the only way to push society forward.


Read the full story at
The Atlantic.

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