There are 62,979,879 reasons Hillary Clinton didn't win the election, but a simple one is: A lot of people didn't want a woman to be president.
For the most part, that feeling was subconscious, snugly cushioned by opposition-manufactured narratives cloaking hidden realities of cognitive dissonance, or, put more simply, "emails." Still, plenty of others would tell you and the rest of Facebook that the presidency is a man's job. That feels too sexist to say out loud. It should.
The reasoning behind the institutionalized sexism that has kept women from the Oval Office isn't usually explained, but the idiotic stereotypes mostly have to do with emotion. Women are too emotional to be trusted with the highest office in the free world. They'll make "rash decisions," possibly while PMSing. They could be signing executive orders, and conducting foreign policy, and condemning private offices and individuals guided by no discernible metric beyond the flow of hormones! Look how emotional I'm getting right now! I'm a triggered snowflake, right? (By the way, the inversion version of this argument, published by TIME in 2015, is that Clinton would be a good president because she's already gone through menopause.)
Here's the ironic part: All of the nonsense behind the misogynistic fear of a female president has been coming to fruition in Donald Trump's first weeks in office. Worried that a woman in the White House would have careening mood swings often spurred by catty arguments? Look no further than Trump's Twitter feed.
The short version of all the women-can't-be-president nonsense is that we'd risk nuclear war once a month. The first time someone told me that joke, I was too young to have a full briefing on periods and didn't get the punchline. In case you don't, it's a biological disparagement of women as erratically unhinged. I'm going to pretend that we all agree misogyny is bad. I don't have the word count or patience to work under any other assumption. Let's also agree that someone who is erratically unhinged should be kept one restraining order's distance away from the White House. Finally, be so kind as to grant me the establishing belief that having public breakdowns about reality television, recklessly condemning businesses in the private sector for personal gain, and using Twitter as if it is a series of text messages to your id is erratically unhinged behavior.
I'm not even beginning to address policy or ideology here (see again: word count, patience). The unimaginable cruelty of Trump signing away human lives with the stroke of a pen—on pieces of paper he may have failed to read—has been well documented. This is not about partisanship; it's about fitness to serve, an issue that has nothing to do with gender. If Trump's first executive orders compelled airlines to provide free alcohol and a human amount of leg room, it would remain deeply disturbing that the president of the United States is struggling so much with the duties of the office.
On the left, there's been a lot of speculation around Trump's physical and mental health. You may find that ridiculous, but it doesn't begin to touch the outrageous and sexist fear-mongering around Clinton's health, which was deliberately manufactured by the alt-right and then adopted by the Trump campaign itself. Trump also claimed Clinton didn't have a "presidential look" or the "stamina to be president"—another stereotype that's ironic in retrospect when you hear reports that Trump was "fatigued" during an apparently contentious call with the Australian prime minister.
While we're on the topic of double standards, the conflicts of interest juxtaposition of the Clinton and Trump foundations alone is like comparing apples to a malignant tumor shaped like an orange. After spending months inveighing against Clinton's supposed coziness with Wall Street, Trump is putting former Goldman Sachs executives in charge of the government; after Trump complaining ad nauseum about Clinton's lax email practices, his own White House staff is reportedly using private email accounts. The list goes on.
Sexism defines a woman's existence with granular intricacy. On a more macro level, it holds back more than 50 percent of the population from equal pay, reproductive rights, and even physical safety. The deep, pervasive nature of sexist ideas is the reason we have never had a female president, and baked into that condemning non-statistic is the grotesque belief that menstrual cycles cast women outside the realm of reason and common sense. "Outside the realm of reason and common sense" sounds like a pretty accurate descriptor of Trump's first weeks in office, or really just his Twitter feed.
The notion that Clinton (or any woman) would be weak, or irrational, or guided by her hormones, was always sexist nonsense. But as a consequence of too many people buying into that nonsense, we've got a president who actually has problems with controlling his impulses and letting emotion overrule reason. It would be funny, except we're all going to be living through it for four years.
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