The campaign of hatred against Hillary Clinton’s book reeks of misogyny

Trump has nearly started a nuclear stand-off, sanctioned a botched operation in Yemen, banned transgender members of the military from serving and ended the Dreamers programme – but Hillary is still the target of most people's hatred

Rachael Revesz
Tuesday 10 October 2017 22:29 BST
Hillary Clinton's book, ‘What Happened’, is released, to the anger of many of her opponents
Hillary Clinton's book, ‘What Happened’, is released, to the anger of many of her opponents (Getty)

Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened, is out today. Have you heard? Unlike other books, most of the reviews have centred not on the content or the turn of phrase, but on whether she should have written it at all. For anyone else, this would be seen as an unusual focus for a tell-all memoir.

But the questions asked of What Happened are not unusual, at least for female writers. Why did you get such a big advance? Why are your characters so unlikeable? And, most insultingly, “Why are you writing about yourself?”

The mass attempt to silence Clinton and her book has sadly become a normalised reaction to a woman who tried to become the most powerful person in the world, and who is not willing to spend the rest of her days taking woodland walks around her home in Chappaqua, in upstate New York.

She continues, much to people’s contempt, to say what she thinks.

“When I said, ‘You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,’ I was talking about well-documented reality,” she wrote.

Critics, including Bernie Sanders, have accused of Clinton of relitigating the election and propelling a narrative that ensured the defeat of the Democratic Party. (His remarks smack of hypocrisy, given he recently endorsed anti-abortion “liberal” candidates to run for office.) They question who she is writing this book for, and dismiss it as an “historical artefact”.

But arguably it doesn’t matter whether critics like the content of Clinton’s book much or not. Arguably, it doesn’t much matter whether she gives Bill Clinton a pass, or if she blames Donald Trump, or Joe Biden or Jill Stein. What matters most is she is telling us her story, as the first woman to ever come within a handful of states to winning the presidency. What matters is how she was so close to the glass ceiling that she could see the way it reflected the light.

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What matters is that a man described as the “King of Debt”, who spent decades allegedly harassing, mistreating and abusing women, took her place.

She didn’t just lose the election, although she received three million more votes than Trump. She lost to the background echo of countless Trump supporters, including Rudy Giuliani and Jeff Sessions, shouting and snarling for her to be “locked up”. Within months, Sessions became the Attorney General.

When asked to defend the latest Trump debacle during the campaign, Trump aides and supporters said they were electing a President, not a preacher.

They continue to support him today, even after he ended the “Dreamers” programme, called to stop transgender people serving in the military, eroded climate change protections and fought wars of words with other world leaders.

Trump even sanctioned a botched operation in Yemen, killing a US military member, and carried out strikes on an Isis air strip in Syria without even touching the runway.

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And yet Hillary Clinton is the one who we should really hate.

“I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people – millions and millions of people – decided they just didn’t like me,” she wrote. “Imagine what that feels like.”

If this book was fiction, the reader wouldn’t believe it.

What actually happened to Hillary Clinton reeks of misogyny. It reeks so badly that you can smell it stronger than a sniffer dog can suss out crack cocaine. Even for people who do not take much interest in politics, people were quick to say, “I don’t like her”, but couldn’t quite explain why. She was an “enabler” for her husband’s alleged sexual assaults, some said, or she had “dollar signs in her eyes”. She is “hawkish” and would “lead us all into World War III”. It all seems so laughable now, just eight months later as we hover on the precipice of nuclear war with North Korea.

As Ellen Fitzpatrick, author of The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency, said of Victoria Woodhull, the first woman who ran to be President, in the 19th century,

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“Ambition alone was alienating to some and her most vociferous critics… [they] even likened her to the devil. Rather than send her to the White House, there [were] those that wished to see her locked up in prison on election day.”

It sounds depressingly familiar. More than 200 years later Clinton, the ambassador of the she-devil brand, has the audacity to write a book about a campaign – her campaign – that shaped the western world.

When she gave her concession speech on the morning of 9 November, the chalk drawings of Madame Le President on the pavements of the New York City were blurred with rain. She came into that room and everyone stood. With incredible poise, she told little girls to never stop dreaming. I was 27, and I cried.

In her book she wrote she was “doomed from the start”. With good grace, she doesn’t say that her gender was her downfall. But I will say it for her: whatever the book says, she was a woman, after all.

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