Hillary, Champion of Convenient Feminism

The Sometimes Role Model: Where Clinton Falls Short

Original Poster | Maura Fennelly | February 29, 2016

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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has garnered support from feminist celebrities like Lena Dunham and women-oriented organizations like Planned Parenthood. When campaigning alongside Clinton during the Iowa Caucus, Dunham explained that the candidate “has survived horrific, gendered attacks on nearly every single aspect of her character…. the way she’s been treated by the media is just more evidence of the anger that exists towards women”.

And everyone knows the discussion about the Clinton’s personal marriage life—it’s been a popular topic of debate for decades, now. Hillary Clinton’s position as a woman in power could be the cause of this stir, but it also has to do with the fact that her husband was accused of coercing 22 year-old Monica Lewinsky into sexual activities back in 1998.

“…she claims to fight for women’s equality, yet made the decision to call an intern ‘a narcissistic loony tune’ to keep both her and her husband’s positions safe in the White House.”

Going beyond President Bill Clinton’s role, then First Lady Hillary Clinton became the face of her husband’s defense against the allegations. The paradox in Hillary Clinton’s feminist platform of her campaign is that she claims to fight for women’s equality, yet made the decision to call an intern “a narcissistic loony tune” to keep both her and her husband’s positions safe in the White House.

Monica Lewinsky was a joke to the media: she was labeled as “a little slutty”, “a ditsy predatory White House intern” and a “dingbat”. Even worse, all of those caustic labels were created by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Maureen Dowd in her description of Lewinsky. So not only has Hillary Clinton failed in her feminism, but renowned journalists have as well.

Source: Wikimedia | Lewinsky's Government ID Photo, 1997
Source: Wikimedia | Lewinsky’s Government ID Photo, 1997

There was a collective purpose of the media and the Clinton administration to make Lewinsky seem like a lying, ignorant young woman in search of desperate attention. As though a 22 year-old were a sexualized mastermind rather than the all-too-common Capitol Hill intern that one can find all over DC.

In 2014, Lewinsky stated that, “[M]y boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position…. The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”

“The Clinton Administration’s massive amount of power made the nation believe that Lewinsky did everything wrong.”

The Clinton Administration’s massive amount of power made the nation believe that Lewinsky did everything wrong. Two individuals agreed to have a sexual relationship, but only one of them was mocked and slut-shamed by the media. With the amount of hate the media gave her, it is no surprise that it took Lewinsky 16 years to come out and clarify the truth of her interactions with President Clinton.

Regardless of the media’s wrongdoing in targeting Lewinsky, the attacks began in the White House. Hillary Clinton had the opportunity to either stay silent or stand behind a woman that was taken advantage of by the most powerful man in the nation, but she didn’t. Hillary Clinton chose to abandon the feminist principle of standing up for fellow women and believing survivors unconditionally.

When Monica Lewinsky came forward and told her encounter, she quickly became a piece of entertainment for the American public. She was recently featured in a TED Talk and pleaded that “public shaming as a blood sport has to stop”. This plea comes more than a decade after her experience with sexual exploitation and the puritanical predatory behavior of the American public.

Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images | Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham recently published an essay about Kesha being forced to continue a contract with Dr. Luke, a music producer that she says raped and abused her for a decade. Dunham stated that “these women deserve better. They do not choose to have their reputations pilloried and their characters questioned as a tactic for getting what they want,” and continued on that, “soon, no one will accept shame and fear as the status quo”.

How does Lena Dunham, a feminist who stands with all women who have experienced sexual assault, campaign for a candidate that contributed to a 22 year-old’s harassment that rendered her as a modern day Hester Prynne?

“Hillary Clinton had a choice in 1998: either stand alongside a woman that her husband took advantage of, or stand alongside the man in power…[she] chose the latter,”

Hillary Clinton had a choice in 1998: either stand alongside a woman that her husband took advantage of, or stand alongside the man in power. Clinton chose the latter and it will forever taint her image not only as a feminist, but a person who truly believes in justice for wrong doings. Come Election Day, women must question what Clinton values more: women’s rights or her own power.