Hello, patrons! We're counting down our most-read articles of 2019 on the Tendency this week. Our #1, most-read piece will be revealed tonight. As an added bonus here, we're offering a Patreon-exclusive micro-interviews with some of the authors on the list. Here's the latest...
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"I Don’t Hate Women Candidates -- I Just Hated Hillary and Coincidentally I’m Starting to Hate Elizabeth Warren"
by Devorah Blachor
Published January 2, 2019
I have no problem with women. My wife is a woman and I have daughters who will likely be wives and mothers of daughters one day. I only had a problem with Hillary Clinton, and my problem with her is completely separated from her gender, and is solely based on the fact that she was so dishonest when compared to other prominent politicians who ran for president. How could anyone vote for such a liar?
My hatred for Hillary wasn’t diabolical. I never bought into the whole pizzagate thing, or the whole Uranium One thing, or the whole spirit-cooking-she-drinks-blood-infused-Podesta-rice thing, and I never once believed she was the devil. I would see those posts and just be like, Huh, if people believe that stuff about her, she must be really terrible.
And I never chanted LOCK HER UP or created memes showing her in prison, but I did laugh a little at those memes, because the thought of this accomplished woman behind bars with all her agency stripped away from her was funny to me
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On the inspiration for the piece...
The 2016 election was a slow-moving train wreck to which we all had front row seats. And they were free, unless you consider the steep emotional costs.
Here’s what I saw: People I love saying they couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because of the emails. Someone from my high school saying they couldn’t trust her because of “the way she handled her husband’s infidelities”. Progressives who said they wished another woman was running, someone like Elizabeth Warren, perhaps, because they wanted to make it clear that they were open to women, just not the woman who was actually a candidate and had a realistic chance of becoming President. And in the margins, days before the election, a rumor exploded about how Hillary Clinton was a witch who drank blood. (I realize I am very online, so if you’re not familiar with that one, Google ‘Spirit Cooking’. Bring a pen and paper, because there’s a risotto recipe involved! But also performance art.)
A binding theme of this show was that people were latching on to that one reason why they couldn’t support a qualified woman who was running for President. It was all the more egregious because her opponent was an incompetent man who bragged about grabbing women’s pussies and called for five boys of color to be executed in the 1990s and stood by this when they were exonerated. I mean, these are just two things that he did. There are more things. You can read about some of them here.
So when I heard Elizabeth Warren was planning to run in 2020, I understood that the same people would be trying to identify that one reason why they couldn’t vote for her.
They don’t do this consciously. It’s not that people hate women, exactly. It’s that people hate women who seek positions of power, especially when they’re challenging the status quo. (If women are happy to nominate conservative Supreme Court justices, for instance, they’d probably be deemed more “likable”). People will read that assessment and reject it, but only if they’re among those whose bias is baked into their reactions. The rest of us see how it went down in 2016. We can see through the glass ceiling too, but we can’t reach it because all those other people are in the way.
And like magic, as her candidacy announcement approached, the stories about Elizabeth Warren started to materialize. All the usual suspects were suddenly very impassioned about her “DNA lies” and her radical left agenda and her wild dominatrix affair with a 24-year-old Marine (ok, that came much later and no one believed it but it’s too good to leave out here.)
A shameful secret I have is that until the 2016 election, I never confronted the lies about Hillary. I dismissed them because I didn’t think enough people would believe them. I had faith in people’s ability to see through bullshit, and not enough cynicism and understanding to recognize how misogyny and racism are the seas in which we’re all swimming.
I think a lot more of us understand that now. I try not to let the hypocrisies go unchallenged and I call them out. I wrote this piece as a way to challenge them. I wrote it to snuff out the “but her emails” narrative before it came to life.
On the writing/editing process...
t didn’t take long, although I wasn’t sure if I should submit it before she announced, so I held onto it for a few weeks. And then I just decided to submit it anyway - probably after some exhausting Facebook thread where men were explaining to me how Warren wasn’t electable. But the ever-wise McSweeney’s editor, Chris Monks, held onto it until Warren informally announced (with an exploratory committee - her official announcement came after the piece was published).
On a side note, a few days after I submitted the piece, Alexandra Petri published a similar piece in the Washington Post, but about Nancy Pelosi. I’m a huge fan of her writing - she’s just hilarious and a great writer - and I felt embarrassed as if I were copying her, even though I’d already submitted my piece. I think this happens a lot in satire. We’re all seeing the same patterns and writing about them, and there’s often overlap. .
On the audience reaction...
Devorah's favorite humor pieces of 2019...
In the last few years, the unpaid labor gender imbalance - aka women carrying the mental load and doing more housework than men - has been a trending hut button topic. Fiona Taylor absolutely obliterated this subject with How To Stage Your Own Death So Your Husband Understands How Much Work You Do. I can’t really describe how much I love it because it would require too much mental labor.
Not sure if anyone else has noticed that there’s a group of people destroying the world with violence, climate change denial and general stupidity and sometimes I fantasize that we can shut them up by trolling them. In this spirit, Sarah Hutto has done the world a great service by writing this piece: How To Get the Alpha Male To Shut The Hell Up So You And The Beta Can Bang. I plan to link to it frequently.
Finally, there’s nothing better than a deep dive into the sexual confusion of the Reagan Era, and this one by Max Davison was particularly satisfying: Comparative Media Studies 201: “Heterosexual Undertones in Top Gun”.