I am still upset about the sexism in the presidential election.
I will never get over it. I imagine that, on my death bed, my last words will be: “Clinton was unlikable? But Trump was despicable. She had baggage? He had entire storage spaces full. She was the most qualified. He was the most unqualified. He got a pass for everything. She got a pass for nothing! Don’t tell me that being a woman had nothing to do with it! Okay, I’m ready to meet my maker.”
During the election, it was not just the signs at rallies and posts from Trump backers and, let’s face it, sadly, some Sanders supporters, that had the c-word written all over them. There was subtle sexism, too. This one still gets to me: “I do want a woman president. But I want the right woman. And she is not the right woman.” As if we’ve always had the right man. Yes, Rutherford B. Hayes was the right man. “Everyone stop. Look no further. We’ve got Franklin Pierce. He’s the one.”
Let me get this straight. Conveniently, when a woman is the front runner, we now need the exact right person? Suddenly, that’s the criteria? We have never had that standard before.
People on the political right and left engaged in this subtle sexism of “the right woman.” So, the reasoning of those on the left who refused to support Clinton in the general election went like this: “If we risk the awful and unqualified Trump, so be it. Yes, he wants to ban a whole religion and has a white nationalist as a campaign chairman. But I cannot support Clinton, because I will not be responsible for putting in … the wrong woman! My conscience will not allow it.”
Maybe these people could hear how obnoxious they sound if they substituted the word “woman” with something else. They should try: “I want an Asian. But I want the right Asian. Oh yes, I do sound like a tool.”
Then there was the famous Elizabeth Warren cover. It got to the point that, when people on the left attacked me for supporting Clinton, I could count down to what they would say next and always be right: “It’s not about gender. I would totally support Elizabeth Warren.” I’d say, “Good for you for supporting a female who’s not running. Yes, congratulations on finding precisely one woman on the face of the entire planet whom you deem worthy and who just may meet the threshold of someone like Michael Dukakis. Get your honorary woman’s badge on the way out.”
To those who say, “It’s not about gender, I respect Elizabeth Warren more than anyone,” I have one question: Then why didn’t you listen to the woman you respect most when Warren begged you for five months to support Clinton?” I can hear them respond: “Because I don’t listen to that hag. ‘Vote for Hillary. Vote for Hillary!’ What does Liz Warren know?”
Okay, so I never heard anyone say exactly that and I don’t know what goes on in their mind. My point is that they could not bring themselves to listen to the woman they worship, even when she was pleading with them. It makes me wonder, if Warren is the frontrunner in 2020, which other woman who is not running will they claim they support?
What I want most of all is for people to admit it’s more difficult for a woman to become president. It’s harder to have mass appeal. It’s harder as there is resistance. Just say it. Instead, people deny it. And it drives me crazy—clearly.
When people talk about 2020, I hear the same people who insist it’s not harder for a woman also say that we need to play it safe with a nominee. Then the examples they give are always white men. So, what they’re really saying is, “It’s not harder for a woman. It’s just next time we can’t try a woman. It’s too hard.”
Personally, I am not prejudiced one way or the other when it comes to 2020. I am keeping a very open mind about which woman I’ll support. And to those folks who yelled at me repeatedly through 2016, “You just want her because she’s a woman,” just know this: You will have to go through the same thing all over again. Ha ha! I can’t wait.
Hilary Schwartz is a comedian and writer based in NYC with love (and hate) for politics. She is a regular contributor to Political Storm.