Not long ago, a post here linked to the twitter of a woman who went down the passive-aggressive rabbit hole to lie about what Mario Machado twitted at her. Almost immediately, she took her account private. Her pseudonymous friend* explained that she didn’t do so to conceal her unhinged twits, but because she feared being stalked or doxed. That’s what males do to females, she informed me.
“By whom?” I responded. “Lawyers and judges are going to stalk or dox her?” In rode the cavalry of bold scolds and white knights, resulting in screams of “misogyny.” According to her allies, pointing out that a woman was unhinged was a centuries-old sexist charge against women, that while men were jerks, women were nuts.
Had I been more interested, I might have inquired what, then, one calls a woman who’s unhinged, if it’s sexist to be accurate. I wasn’t that interested, having suffered enough nonsense already. Plus, being called names by the deeply passionate isn’t really an issue for me, no matter how deeply it hurts their feelings. The twitters are filled with foolishness, not the least of which resides with the kids who need to form a club on twitter for self-protection and validation. It’s not like they’re lawyers or anything.
But what if this happened with the President of the United States? It’s bad enough we’re stuck with Idiocracy at the moment, but Jill Filipovic tries to rationalize why it could have, should have, been a victimocracy.
You’re walking down the street and there’s a man trailing uncomfortably close behind you. A co-worker stands a little too intimately in your personal space. There’s a stranger breathing down your neck on the subway. Each time, you do a quick mental arithmetic: Do I ignore it? Move away quickly, but without causing a scene? Say something? Yell?
When she says “you,” she means women. While this is the norm for all women, according to Filipovic, she has one particular woman in mind.
“This is not O.K., I thought,” Hillary Clinton writes in her forthcoming memoir, “What Happened,” in a passage to which too many women can relate. “It was the second presidential debate, and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled.”
The “this is not O.K.” meme is common, bordering on cute, from pre-teenagers, but Hillary is a bit older than that. Perhaps she’s embracing the language used by her intended readers. Here is a woman who wants to be leader of the free world, overcome with angst and indecision about a creepy guy who made her skin crawl. And while those same pre-teens use “literally” wrong all the time, so does Hillary. This is not O.K.
In excerpts from the book, which were released by “Morning Joe” on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton revealed that in that moment, she asked herself: What do you do? “Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space?” she writes. “Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly: ‘Back up, you creep, get away from me! I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’ ”
This is revealing in ways neither Clinton nor Filipovic appear to realize. The options weren’t limited to do nothing or call names, the usual false dichotomy proffered to the unduly emotional masses.
Filipovic is a lawyer, though one would never guess it from her ability to present a cogent argument. So, too, was Hillary. Yet neither could conceive of the possibility of turning the situation around with a smart, incisive remark about how it was uncomfortable, given his proclivity toward grabbing female body parts, to have him lurking behind her?
Mrs. Clinton did what most women do when they face harassment or intimidation: She ignored it.
Is Filipovic saying that Trump was harassing or intimidating Clinton? Both words reflect not the conduct being done to someone, but the reaction one has to the conduct. What doesn’t occur to Filipovic, or apparently to Clinton either, is that she was too weak, too fragile, too easily harassed or intimidated, to be in a position of authority.
As for what “most women do,” who cares? Hillary Clinton was running for the presidency of the United States of America, She wasn’t “most women.” She was a presidential candidate. Most women aren’t up to the job. Nor are most men. That she ignored it because that’s what most women do is an argument that Clinton is undistinguished. Is that really the best Filipovic can say about her?
Then Filipovic goes the same path as the twitterer, also a lawyer, when dealing with a problem rationally becomes too hard for their ladybrain to handle.
The moderators of the debate, Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper, admonished Mr. Trump several times to let Mrs. Clinton speak. Neither of them, though, instructed him to physically back off. And who can blame them? It would have been uncomfortable, and they would have faced accusations of bias. They certainly haven’t publicly wondered, as Mrs. Clinton has, whether a different split-second choice could have changed the course of world history; they haven’t had to stand by while the public wonders for them.
How “male privileged” to think that a person who presents herself as worthy of being President of the United States can’t handle something that makes her uncomfortable without the intervention of white knights to save her from the mean, intimidating man.
Nor should they. There’s no perfect way to intervene, and intervention often has costs. But for Mrs. Clinton, on that stage, that lack of intervention put her in the same position as so many women who are harassed in plain view of others who do nothing: all alone, second-guessing her own gut reaction.
Filipovic is right when she writes, “nor should they,” but for the wrong reason. Making decisions, particularly quick ones, like when to stand up and say “objection” or how to respond to a question at a presidential debate, isn’t easy. But that’s what distinguishes a person capable of being a good lawyer or a good president. If handling the “harassment in plain view” was too hard for Hillary Ciinton, then Filipovic is arguing that she lacked the capacity to be president. No, that doesn’t mean Trump has the capacity, but that Clinton does not.
That said, Filipovic’s argument that Hillary Clinton suffered from too much stereotypical girliness to manage is bullshit. Watching her deal with the Senate during the Benghazi hearings showed her to be a smart, exceptionally tough person fully capable of beating the crap out of any guy she wanted to. This is just the post hoc excuse, a play to her intended readers’ feelz, and Filipovic just doesn’t believe that women are the equal of men and need excuses for blowing it.
*I originally included names and links, as I’m disinclined to take the passive-aggressive route of relating an anecdote without proof that it happened. But upon reflecting, I decided to delete them, as the people involved are truly too vapid and fragile to deal with reality and this isn’t about them anyway.
Those who followed this as it was happening know who they are, and that they are putative members of the legal profession provides one of the worst commentaries on what’s become of lawyers. This prompted a very liberal senior federal judge (not Judge Kopf) to remark to me privately that the profession is doomed if these are the best we can manage.