Like many voters, I’ve never been a huge Hillary Clinton fan. She comes across as stiff, robotic, distant—the cold polar opposite of her I Feel Your Pain husband, a wet blanket contrast to Fired Up Obama, an overly rehearsed and polished foil for Revolutionary Sanders.
As a woman, a mother, a Democrat, a daughter of a woman who graduated from Wellesley around the same time as Hillary Clinton—and especially as a feminist—I wanted so much for Hillary to be my candidate. I wanted to feel the call to rally hard for the most qualified presidential contender in history, to make calls and put up signs and get into fights with relatives on behalf of this strong, powerful woman.
But remember the 2008 New Hampshire primary debate where Obama damned Hillary with faint praise by quipping—unconvincingly—that she was “likeable enough”? Despite Hillary Clinton’s qualifications, her brilliance, her tenacity, and her rainbow wardrobe of pantsuits, I’ve never found her likable enough to be excited about her candidacy—until two nights ago.
Two nights ago I was perched on a stool at a local whiskey bar with a man I’d matched with on Tinder. All I really knew about him going in was that he was (self-reportedly) 6 feet tall, not currently married, and not into polyamory—a surprisingly rare breed, it turns out.
We awkwardly shook hands, then he kicked off the conversation by accusing me of being an “extremely aggressive texter.” I’m still not positive what he meant, but I think maybe he was referring to the fact that I type fast? Or that I use complete sentences when perhaps an emoji would suffice? Or—surely not in 2016—that I’d texted him first? The conversation went on to cover his siblings, his young adulthood, his college years, his former job, his experience being catfished by a (self-reported) porn star.
It was one of those dates that made me wish I had a giant red ABORT! button I could push that would open up a flap in the floor to send my date down the chute with all the other bad eggs a là Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka. Instead, I drank.
One and a half barrel-aged Manhattans in, I found my voice. Apropos of nothing I said, “Tell me you’re not voting for Donald Trump.”
He laughed. “Trump? No. I won’t vote for Trump, but I’m definitely not voting for Bitch Clinton. Bitch Clinton? No way.”
And that was the moment Hillary became my candidate.
Because here’s the thing about misogyny: it’s often quite subtle and insidious, and when you accuse people of it it’s easy to come across as, um, aggressive. Or a bitch.
But right now in America a virulent and un-subtle form misogyny is alive and well, and it’s not just Donald Trump. Misogyny is a bumper sticker that says “Monica Sucks / Hillary Blows.” Misogyny is a campaign button that reads “I’m not voting for Monica Lewinsky’s Ex-Boyfriend’s Husband.” Misogyny is a t-shirt declaring “I believe Hillary can make this country what it once was—an arctic region covered with ice.” Hillary Clinton may not be warm and fuzzy, but she’s going to be one hell of a President of this diverse, pluralistic, always progressing, deeply complicated country of ours. And for that reason alone she’s pretty damn loveable.