That Was Fast: Hillary Clinton Already Attacked for Running While Female

Grandmom Clinton is in for a long, long year.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in LeClaire, Iowa.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in LeClaire, Iowa.

Well, that didn’t take long.

The same day Hillary Clinton officially launched her campaign for president, she was scrutinized for doing so while being a woman.

“I don’t need her to drown me in estrogen every time she opens her mouth,” GOP strategist Ana Navarro said Sunday while on CNN to complain about Clinton’s lack of “subtlety.” “Every time she opens her mouth it’s about the granddaughter and Chelsea’s wedding and the yoga routines. She doesn’t need to have a sign that says, ‘I’m a woman, hear me roar!'”

(I know – I thought this was another on-point Onion story, too. I’m still a little paranoid it might be. But I watched the video, and those are real words coming out of a real person’s mouth in 2015.)

If nothing else, it’s nice to kick off the Running While Female outrage with something so clearly backward. No need to read between the lines or dissect coded language here: Navarro is offended by Clinton’s femininity.

Not that Clinton ever really stood a chance in this department. If she stuck with her 2008 I-Wear-The-Pantsuits-Around-Here image, she’d be criticized for not being feminine enough, for not running home after her campaign to put dinner on the table with a smile. Now that she’s taking a softer approach, she gets to look forward to a year of critics — including fellow women such as Ms. Navarro — implying that this more traditional femininity makes her unfit to lead.

To give Navarro a little credit, it’s no mistake that you keep hearing about Clinton’s role as a mother. Her official bio doesn’t sign off with a glowing mention of her granddaughter purely because she’s proud. No, Clinton is a cunning politician who’s been around the block — little Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky was strategically name-dropped after 14 dense paragraphs of accomplishments and accolades for a reason, not because grandma can’t get enough of those chubby little cheeks.

But why should that make us uncomfortable? Why shouldn’t Clinton be using her womanhood — and its ultimate expression, motherhood — to her advantage? If military service and business experience are acceptable, desirable parts of a well-rounded presidential resume, why isn’t nurturing and raising a fellow human being?

I don’t have children (unless you count shih tzus, in which case, let’s hang out). But over the past year I’ve watched my sister become a mother and my mom a grandmother. It has made them stronger, it has made them more compassionate, it has made them better versions of their already pretty badass selves. Would I vote for them? Absolutely not — no Weymouth belongs in political office. But I can’t imagine why either of them would edit this chapter of their lives when telling their stories, or why anyone would consider this to be negative life experience.

If Navarro really wanted to attack Clinton’s career and ability to govern the nation, she had plenty of legitimate material. An embarrassment of riches, really — Clinton’s a politician, after all, and a good one at that. Navarro could have pointed out Clinton’s dodgy and inconsistent fracking record. Her convenient flip-flopping on gay marriage. That e-mail scandal is still plenty ripe for the picking. Benghazi, anyone? Holy hell, people — this just isn’t hard.

But that’s not what Navarro was after, and that’s not what her fellow talking heads — both Republican and Democrat, both male and female — will soon be after, either. Why bother doing your homework and starting a legitimate discussion when you can just fall back on a time-tested takedown: Point out that Clinton’s a woman (or, uh, “drowning in estrogen”) and let ignorance and misogyny take it from there.

There are plenty of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton next November. But her proud, confident, owning-it femininity? That’s just not one of them.

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