March 16, 2012
“I’ve been really bothered by what I perceive as sexism [among some male Obama supporters] and have spent hours defending [Clinton] … A lot of guys just can’t stand Hillary, and it’s the intensity of their irritation with her that disturbs me more than their devotion to Obama.”
This riveting Democratic primary campaign has provided us with its own stock characters: There are the young “Daily Show”-watching Obama-maniacs getting over their irony addiction by falling earnestly in love with the senator from Illinois. There are the pissed-off second-wave feminists, uptight and out of touch, howling as their dream of seeing a woman in the Oval Office fades. And then there are the young women caught between them. . . . I am a loud feminist and a longtime Clinton skeptic who was suddenly feeling that I needed to rationalize, apologize for, or even just stay quiet about my increasing unease with the way Clinton was being discussed. Meanwhile, I was getting e-mails from men I didn’t know well who approached me as a go-to feminist to whom they could express their hatred of Hillary and their anger at her staying in the race — an anger that seemed to build with every one of her victories. One of my closest girlfriends, an Obama voter, told me of a drink she’d had with a politically progressive man who made a series of legitimate complaints about Clinton’s policies before adding that when he hears the senator’s voice, he’s overcome by an urge to punch her in the face. . . .
I received e-mails and phone calls from women voicing various strains of frustration: They told me about the sexism they felt coming from their brothers and husbands and friends and boyfriends; some described the suspicion that their politically progressive partners were actually uncomfortable with powerful women. Others had to find ways to call me out of earshot of their Obama-loving boyfriends.
Talk of violence, fear of being overheard by their partners — classic symptoms of domestic abuse. But then, that’s the culture at the top.