How Could You? I’m A Woman: On Playing “The Woman’s Card”

January 4, 2016  |  

 

Corbis

Corbis

Remember the line Catwoman uttered in Batman Returns after being struck by Gotham’s savior during a fight?  “How could you? I’m a woman.”  Seconds after he apologizes, she fights back by kicking him in the chest.  It’s an old reference, but Catwoman brilliantly played into the sexist belief that women are defenseless, incapable of holding their own, and not as strong as men.  And those now classic lines are what I envision Trump hears any time Hillary Clinton (or probably any woman, for that matter) speaks, particularly when she’s defending herself against his endless, sexist-prone tirades.  Acknowledging this, of course, drives The Donald crazy because how could he of all people, he who wants to make America great again, he who supposedly cherishes women, even the menstruators, bathroom-goers and breastfeeders among us, be guilty of such f**kery?

Well, contradicting himself and proving to be the tiny-hearted scoundrel he is for the umpteenth time, Trump claimed Clinton played the woman’s card after he stated she was “schlonged” by President Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary.  Even the non-Yiddish speakers among us know the word “schlong” is vulgar slang for penis, and yet Trump insisted his version of the word meant “beaten badly.”

Sure…by a penis.

Clinton and her campaign responded, noting Trump’s penchant for sexist, divisive rhetoric, which only further fueled the pompous, delusional hatemonger’s psychobabble.  I loathe that I’m giving that sorry excuse for a man any more attention than he’s already getting, but it’s hard not to when so much is at stake (and when it’s clear that Trump, who attacks women and minorities on a regular basis, has so many like-minded supporters).

None of this, however, suggests that Clinton is clean as a whistle.  Of course, she is viewed as an enabler by some because of her obvious association with her husband and former President Bill Clinton who was impeached thanks to his relations with Monica Lewinsky.  Some will ask, how can she “cry” sexism given that history? But Bill Clinton, whose past – recent and distant – is well known, isn’t running for office, and Hillary’s identity and politics are separate from that of her husband.  Hillary was recently accused of referring to Senator Bernie Sanders as sexist, and in turn, she was also charged with manipulating women.  This, after Sanders told Clinton during the first Democratic debate that all the shouting in the world won’t keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, a line he often uses when discussing gun control.  Clinton, in recent weeks and months, has attempted to not only connect with women, but also Latino, and Black voters. She has been met with much scrutiny and disapproval, especially for a campaign logo that utilized the Kwanzaa kinara and “Hispandering” with her website’s “7 Things Hillary Clinton Has In Common With Your Abuela” post.  These attempts won’t succeed without directly and specifically addressing (and understanding) the needs and concerns of people of color in this country.  Therefore, her attempts have come off as inauthentic.

But I digress.  Back to the issue at hand, which is that women are constantly accused of playing the woman’s card; of playing the victim.  It’s a lazy, offense-excusable tool often utilized by those who in one breath will call a woman a “ho” simply for being a woman, and in the next, claim they’re not misogynist or sexist.  It’s also an excuse to turn a blind eye to the many issues that women face, like earning less money than our male counterparts.  We’ve seen the woman’s card flag raised in the abortion debate with those who would deny a woman’s right to choose.  We’ve seen it in the workplace, particularly with employer discrimination against pregnant employees.  We’ve seen it when it comes to sexual harassment, assault, and rape, where women are more quickly blamed as opposed to their attackers for somehow encouraging or playing a role in their harassment.  We shouldn’t have to defend ourselves as women time and again against patriarchal norms.

Hillary Clinton made the decision this time around to speak about her experiences as a woman, to address women’s issues that clearly need to be discussed.  Why is this given so much attention, and exactly how is this a bad thing, particularly considering Trump’s quickness to attack her for being a woman in the first place?   Whether she will win the Democratic party’s nomination remains to be seen but, as I have written before, let the issues that actually matter, let her politics and policies, like those of her fellow candidates, be the deciding factor in the upcoming presidential election.  No one wins in the debate over the validity or authenticity of her womanhood.

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