Editor’s note: This post was written the week of the 2016 Democratic National Convention but was never published.
The 2016 election cycle has been one of the most vicious and frightening in my lifetime. We’re on the precipice of the possibility of real change in this country, and we have a choice whether that change will be positive or disastrous. The GOP has put forth a platform and a candidate that threatens our democratic republic to a greater degree than ever before, presenting the very real danger of moving beyond conservatism into fascism. (Read the stifling GOP platform and contrast that with progressive Democratic platform.) With the Democratic convention upon us, we have the opportunity to support a candidate to strike at the very heart of discrimination and make a real positive change.
I support Hillary Clinton. I am impressed by her perseverance in the face of the basest form of discrimination in our society today. She’s relentlessly attacked in the media for the simple fact that she’s a very strong, capable, intelligent, accomplished, and exceedingly well-qualified woman. The memes born of those attacks have no factual basis and have been debunked by numerous sources including several excellent Daily Kos articles, but the memes continue nonetheless.
PolitiFact has shown graphically that of all the major candidates on both sides, Clinton is most truthful in the “true” and “mostly true” categories combined. When the “half true” category is added, only President Obama scores higher for the sum of all three, as shown in this chart by Robert Mann (see the original graphic here). Going the other way, Donald Trump is the clear winner for the three negative/liar categories combined, followed closely by Bachmann and Cruz.
Why then is Clinton so unfairly distrusted by so many? Many articles have been written dissecting the “Hating Hillary” phenomenon dating back to early in her public life, but the phenomenon isn’t unique to her. It’s far more insidious and dangerous than that. Rob Taber addresses that question nicely in his article – Lying Liars Who Lie: 2016 Edition. In his article, Mr. Taber captures the essence of the problem in a single sentence.
To put it simply: in America we teach our children that women are liars.
In the next paragraph, he says:
The argument is laid out well in this essay, which I very much recommend. The essay includes frank conversations about our tendency to disbelieve rape victims, the way our inability to trust women affects public policies regarding choice and contraception. But also think about how it plays out in everyday life. When we hear two sides of a couple’s dispute, how quick are we to say “well, he’s a good guy” or “she’s crazy” or “she needs to give him another chance”? We’re quick to think that women are dominating a discussion if women are speaking for 30% of the time (and men for 70%). Within the LDS community, there are struggles regarding how much women’s voices are heard at the ward, stake, and Church levels, though there’s been recent movement to include more women in the highest councils.
As Taber points out, the Soraya Chemaly essay, How We Teach Our Kids That Women Are Liars, is a very informative discussion of how this myth originated and continues to be propagated throughout our society. His sentiments are all the more powerful and self-effacing in the context of his MormonPress article given LDS’ historical attitudes towards women and their place in society. They amplify what Chemaly writes about how “long dead theologians and philosophers” inspire these thoughts, and she goes further. As she points out:
…These thoughts are alive and well and have a super long tail outside of religion—think: domestic work, pay discrimination, and sex segregation in the workplace. Every time a young girl can’t serve at an altar, or play in a game, or dress as she pleases; every time she’s assaulted and told to prove it, it’s because she cannot, in the end, be trusted. Controlling her—her clothes, her will, her physical freedom, her reputation—is a perk.
Conventional Abrahamic religious thought cannot escape the idea that we have to pay, as women, with lifelong suffering and labor and be subject to the authority of men lest our irrationality and desires result in more evil and suffering. Until religious hierarchies renounce beliefs and practices based on these theologies, these long-dead men, creatures of their time, might as well be the ones repeatedly showing up in Congress to give their massively ill-informed opinions on women’s health and lives.
By any standards, Hillary Clinton’s qualifications, experience, and accomplishments are laudable. If that same biography were attributed to a male counterpart, such a candidate would be supported without question. As a nation, we must get past these pointless stereotypes that plague all women who challenge the status quo and support Hillary Clinton this November. Our country needs her.