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Hillary Clinton on Women

As the first primaries begin, many eyes are on former Secretary of State and Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Clinton has gained many followers, particularly female, through her identification as a feminist. In her many speeches, she has outlined a feminist platform that includes ideas such as as equal pay for equal work and supporting sexual assault victims.

                                                                                                                    Courtesy of Twitter

However, in the past month, a few inconsistencies with this platform have arisen due to Clinton’s past involvement with her husband’s sexual scandals of the 1990s. During Bill’s campaign and subsequent presidential term, he was connected with a number of sexual assault cases. These ranged from having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky to allegedly raping Juanita Broaddrick, a volunteer on his campaign for governor. These incidents were brought up again in the mainstream media after Republican candidate Donald Trump responded to Hillary’s accusations that he was sexist by in turn accusing her of hypocrisy in multiple tweets and quotes.

                                                                                                                        Courtesy of Twitter

                                                                                                                                 Courtesy of Twitter

The backlash of this has been an increased focus on how Clinton reacted to knowledge of her husband’s scandals. According to Diane D. Blair, one of Clinton’s closest confidantes, Hillary referred to Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony toon,” to which Lewinsky responded by calling the comment an example of Hillary’s impulse to “blame the woman.” Throughout his multiple scandals, Hillary stood by Bill. But by doing so, she engaged in victim-shaming and created an atmosphere of disbelief around anyone who tried to tell their story. These past actions have proved to be quite controversial when trying to reconcile the past with her current platform.

Perhaps the greatest effect of this controversy is a loss of voters for Clinton. The resurfacing of these stories are likely to hinder her attempt to connect with female voters. Caitlin Flanagan, a contributing editor to “The Atlantic,” recently wrote that for the first time in her voting life, she would be staying home in order to avoid voting “for a candidate who helped ‘destroy’ the credibility of women who came forward to report that they had been preyed upon sexually by a powerful man.”

All that aside, one cannot hold Clinton culpable for her husband’s actions. By putting most of the media attention and so forth on her husband’s past transgressions and her response to them, the media is holding Clinton to a higher standard than her male colleagues. Her motives, to a certain degree, are understandable. As Katha Pollitt, a feminist columnist for “The Nation” writes, “Show me the wife who, when she finds out her husband is having an affair with a much younger woman, says, ‘Oh, I feel such sisterhood with her.” The real problem is not that Hillary stood by her husband, a decision many women have made, but her method of doing so. The victim-shaming that she used to discredit the women who accused Bill of sexual harassment or abuse reveals troubling inconsistencies with the platform she now aims to win the presidency with, making it fair game.

What one must take away from this critique is purely the knowledge that Clinton, like all other candidates, has a past. Her promises to listen, believe, and support every victim of sexual assault should be taken with a grain of salt, but she must not be judged for her husband’s actions.

Xandie Kuenning is the Career Editor at Her Campus and a graduate of Northeastern University with a Bachelor's in International Affairs and minors in Journalism and Psychology. She is an avid traveler with a goal to join the Travelers' Century Club. When not gallivanting around the world, she can be found reading about fairytales or Eurasian politics, baking up a storm, or watching dangerous amounts of Netflix. Follow her on Instagram @AKing1917 and on Twitter @XKuenning.
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