Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hillary the Hawk: Global Rape

When Did We Start Out-Guying the Guys?

When I was little, I was not a "girly girl," but I was in awe of my older sister, a teen in high heels, stockings, and dresses--well, she wasn't allowed to wear pants to school. She was a cheerleader for the junior high basketball team, but also outsmarted the boys in her classes. She was amaaaaazing.

The youngest of three daughters, I peered around doorways as the eldest teased her hair and squealed while spinning Beatles 45s at her all-girl sweet sixteen party. She looked like one of my Barbies, in gloves and a gown on her way to a dilettante ball with Ken in a white dinner jacket.

In her senior year, she won the Betty Crocker homemaker's award and was valedictorian of her class. That didn't seem paradoxical then.

When I was only eight years old, she was off to M.I.T. on a full scholarship to double major in Math and Music as one of the only 17 percent of her class who had vaginas. She graduated early and married at 21. She went on to become a lawyer and a mother. To me, it looked like she did everything right. She had it all. She was so successful. I wanted to be just like her.

But born in 1958, I found myself in a different landscape. Times, they were a'changing. Title IX happened. In Junior High, I got to play softball instead of cheering for boys. 

My other older sister's long hair swept over her face as she strummed her acoustic guitar and sang Simon and Garfunkel and James Taylor songs. I mimicked her, too, borrowing her guitar to participate in folk Mass at my Roman Catholic Church and praying for peace as we sang Kumbaya.

Before long, my guitar-playing sister was admitted to graduate school. She would become one of the very few in her dental school class with a vagina.

I scrambled to grab Valedictorian honors like my sisters had done with such seeming ease. I chose Harvard over Smith because I wanted to do what they had done ... prove that I too could break into bastions of masculine power and, if not seizing some small part of it for myself, at least learn how to associate with it.

In my first month at Harvard, I pleased my dad by joining the Harvard Republican Club and volunteering for the Gerald Ford Campaign. But as in many other places I'd found myself (like Harvard itself), I didn't feel comfortable. 

My roommate, the daughter of liberal, highly educated parents, enlightened me as to why the Republicans didn't have the answers we then thought the Democrats did. I modeled myself after her. Maybe that would help.

I muddled through college, abandoning my plan to major in government (the department was intimidatingly large and male) and instead concentrating in German Studies. By junior year I was devoting my intellectual curiosity to investigating 20th Century power gone very awry, and wrote my junior "thesis" about Nazi resisters. But there were no jobs in talking about Sophie Scholl and Die Weisse Rosa--what a surprise--and anyway, I found out senior year that there was another citadel I could storm. I was recruited by Goldman Sachs--I fully believe, to this day, because when asked by the recruiter, "Why German Studies," I answered, "I'm fascinated with Hitler." I didn't mean that the way I fully believe they took it.

From my office on Wall St., I watched the ticker tape parade welcoming the Iran hostages home--something Ronald Reagan took credit for achieving, but which I knew had been accomplished by Jimmy Carter. The Republicans had it wrong, and the Democrats had it right.


My politics contributed to my acute discomfort on Wall Street, but so did the sexual harassment imposed on me there. My citadel storming had gone even less well there than it did at Harvard, despite my having drunk some of the men I met under the table and even, once, smoked a cigar. Truth was, I didn't want to be a guy, especially not based on the men I was observing.

I retreated into the "softer" business world of publishing, where women were more successfully breaking glass ceilings, and then escaped the patriarchal world of New York City business altogether for my own early marriage.

From afar, I watched with keen interest as the women before me, the women like my sisters who had been so brave, stumbled in their careers, either hitting glass ceilings and retreating to the home front or twisting themselves into bow-tied and suited forms of the men they were trying to best and stressing themselves to the max trying not to have it all but to do it all.

I was still political, and became a big supporter of Bill Clinton. But when Bill "misbehaved" in office, I was confused when Hillary Clinton "stood by her man." Why didn't she call him out for perpetrating the same sexual harassment I had experienced at Goldman Sachs? 

Now, I have the term for what Hillary did: Slut-shaming. Denigrating and maligning the women he dallied with, failing to come to their support, she inflated a misogynist lifeboat to keep her husband afloat. And unlike Monica Lewinsky, she kept her head above water, too.

Round about that time, living to support my husband in his career started to feel uncomfortable to me, too. I wanted to give doing it all at least one more try.

I went to Bryn Mawr for grad school. There, I learned a lot about feminism that I didn't know. I learned there had been waves in the "Women's Movement," as we called it then--First Wave Feminism and Second Wave Feminism--one getting women the vote and other equal rights and the second breaking barriers in the workplace. The Third Wave was just emerging, including fascinating French feminisms that dovetailed with overturning the patriarchal system of language. Okay, I know your eyes just glazed, but somehow, it made sense to me: Overturning an entire ideological system and reinventing it in a more equitable way.

Third Wave Feminism is akin to replacing top-down management with collaboration, in that it empowers everyone at every level of an organization. It's certainly not about some of the people breaking glass ceilings, and it's sure as hell not about breaking one because you have a vagina. It's about all genders using their brains creatively to change the system to the benefit of all, even those of us who are doubly or even triply marginalized due to race, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and/or socioeconomics. 

Can subversion happen after you've bought into the system? Women like Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton are examples suggesting it cannot. If I am kind, I imagine they cannot see what they have become. After all, they were courageous heroines of the "Women's Movement," even if we now understand that their "battle call" of "there's a special place in hell for women who don't support women" is no longer relevant. They had to play a different game to become leaders--or at least, they thought they had to. They chose to get ahead by out-guying the guys.

Interesting that we've had female Secretaries of State, but not Presidents. It's arguable that male Presidents recognize that the women like Albright who fought tooth and nail to get to the top of their fields would be perfect foils to do the United States' dirty work abroad. Indeed, these women were more aggressive than many of the male "diplomats" who came before them (Henry Kissinger aside), causing worldwide havoc by, as Diana Johnstone argues in Queen of Chaos, advocating "regime change" in once independent countries we now routinely leave war-torn, with countless civilians either fleeing or dying. These tough broads--toughened by necessity, remember--apparently have no issue acting out their aggression on a global stage.

Take where we are right now. Hillary Clinton's out-guying the guys has destabilized the Middle East even more than it was already shaky--most recently causing violence in Libya and mass murder in and flight from Syria, where oh-by-the-way we're also now looking at a major standoff with Russia.

These are real people dying. Men, women, and children--entire families--suffering because of women pushing up against American glass ceilings by becoming more traditionally masculine than the men who surround them. As The New York Times reports today, Obama would not have moved to support the Libyan rebels if Clinton hadn't pushed him--on poor intelligence, no less--to do so.

How, along the way, did they lose sight of the real meaning of their outdated battle cry? If I still believed in hell beyond death, on one of my angrier days (like today) I would argue that yes, a special place is waiting there for both Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton. But I've long ago abandoned that construct.

The incontrovertible truth is that real hell is being lived right now by American and foreign families: Innocent men, women and children who are trying to keep roofs over their heads, not shatter any kind of ceiling.

With Bernie Sanders's nomination looking ever less likely, the Military Industrial and Finance Complexes are poised to keep American imperialism thriving, even with a woman's anatomy presiding in the White House, as opposed to being violated in it. And that's if she can beat the even more dangerous Republicans back. I can barely even go there.

I'm certainly no longer a Republican, and if Sanders loses the nomination, I'm no longer a Democrat, either. I've never been good at working for or from within a corrupt system, and I'm not going to start now. Look what it has done to those who do ... But for now, I'm keeping my hope alive, still volunteering for the Sanders campaign, still #FeelingTheBern.

Like my lifelong heroine Sophie Scholl, who boldly spoke out against Nazi violence and repression, Bernie Sanders speaks the truth. Isn't it time we do, too?

Massachusetts friends: Please vote on Tuesday, March 1st!