In the six months since launching this blog, I’ve written a lot about bullying in the academic workplace. I’ve also written a lot about the 2008 Democratic primaries (and Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in particular) because I’m a women’s historian and the author of a book on gendered language and rhetoric by profession, and a political junkie by avocation. I’ve been thinking a lot about the interconnections between these phenomena in the bullying of Hillary Clinton by the corporate media and many Democrats. (Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Profs pulled together a lot of useful links contributing to the following discussion–see especially Erica Barnett’s catalog of the offensive language deployed by Democrats against Clinton. See also this entertaining new video by the Women’s Media Center, via Shakesville.)
Bullies, like misogynist trolls in the corporate media and even among Democrats and so-called “liberals” and “progressives,” count on the complicity (or at least the silence) of the majority so that they can work their evil without interference. Workplace bullies are also in the business of controlling the majority through their bullying of a minority: their implied message is, “keep your head down, or you could be next.” Finally, the silent (or enabling) majority convince themselves (falsely) that the victim brought on the bullying herself, and that they don’t need to take action because it’s really the fault of the victim, not of the bullies. This last parallel seems particularly significant.
Go to any discussion thread (even on feminist blogs) following a post on the rampant misogyny within the anti-Clinton forces and/or the corporate media, and early on you’ll see a commenter pop up to proclaim that “I’m not against all women, just this woman,” followed by a long list of Clinton’s political and personal errors that the commenter finds unforgivable. I’ve had this conversation with a few of my friends. (As I have pointed out before, these errors when committed by male presidential candidates get a pass. As I have noted before in discussing inequality in the application of tenure standards, women faculty are held to dramatically higher standards than men faculty (while being paid less all the while, natch.) Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen the same unannounced, secret standards for the Presidency applied to candidate Hillary Clinton that have been applied to no other candidate this year.
The funny thing is that a majority of the Democratic voters haven’t bought into the media’s preferred narrative about Clinton. At least half of them see that she’s ready, willing, and more than able, and they are willing to give her a chance. That’s the silver lining, such as it is, but ironically the support of actual voters isn’t the most important factor in choosing the Democratic nominee.