The Looming Male

Today an excerpt of Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book What Happened was released.  The one from the book talks about how Clinton felt as she was on the stage with Cheeto looming over her.  The reaction at the time was mixed-many people noticed how he was trying to intimidate her.  I personally had always wondered if he was going to hit her since she does know how to get under his skin.

It speaks to a lot of women because they remember the same time that a male did that to them.  Stood over them in an attempt to force them to bend to their will.  Men have for centuries used the power of their bodies to make women do as they want rather than what the women want. It is a subtle act of power and control that was for once incredibly obvious.

Yet when Clinton talks about it, it is the same mix of reactions that happened at the time.  She wonders if she should have told him to back off and thinks her failure to do so was a mistake. (Look media, one of those mistakes you insist she admit to in order to appease your abusive view of her!)

I don’t think it was really that much of a mistake.  She was in a damned if you do and damned if you don’t moment.  Do you acknowledge the inappropriate behavior of a male so people assume you are making too much of it?  Because that is the reaction even when the person is watching it happen in front of them. “No, no, he wasn’t trying to intimidate you. You are overreacting.”  If you don’t then people will say “why didn’t you speak up then?”  Which each action comes a cost.

This is one of those where I think she played it right for the time. Now of course she could probably sock him in the nose and everyone would cheer.  But that is because what she said about the racist, sexist, violent, idiotic smeghead has been shown to be true by his having won the middle class white person vote in three key states. Now people get why it was important.

2 thoughts on “The Looming Male

  1. Yeah. All of that. It hurts how she thinks she let us down by not standing up to him. She DID stand up, by standing her ground.

    It also shows the internal monologue we carry on at all times. If I speak up will the abuser get worse? Am I feeding into his need to control me?

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  2. This reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me. She worked at a start-up many years ago and there was this guy who would come up behind her and massage her shoulders while saying, “Hey! How’s it going?!”

    Although my friend is very strong and doubtless could have laid out the guy, one doesn’t do that in an office environment. So she talked to her boss about it. Her boss said, “Oh, he’s just trying to be nice.” And he blew off her concern.

    My friend didn’t accept that, and came up with a way to make her concerns clear. She went up to her boss and massaged his shoulders while saying, “Hey! How’s it going?!” And her boss tensed up and said, “Okay! I’ll talk to him!”

    As a representative of Nice Guys everywhere, I can say without fear of contradiction: we are often clueless. I’m not suggesting that Trump is a Nice Guy. But it is easy for reasonably nice guys who really do respect women to not understand how it feels when women are the object of the unwanted attention. (That’s not a justification — just an observation.) I suspect that a lot of men didn’t even notice what happened in that debate. And that’s all the more reason why the media should have talked about it more.

    As for Clinton’s reaction: as in most things, she was in a double bind. She would be criticized no matter what. If she had said something, she would have been pilloried for “over-reacting” and so on. What’s telling is that Trump’s stalking of her wasn’t a bigger thing in the mainstream press. That was one of Trump’s biggest assets in the campaign. If he acted like a monster, well it was Trump after all. And if he acted only creepy, well, it either wasn’t mentioned or he was given compliments for not being worse. Is it any wonder that he won the election?

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