I’ve spent months debating whether or not to write about why I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton. Honestly, I have mostly put off this blog post due to laziness. I knew that this post alone would take a long time to write, with considerable research necessary. I also knew that to do justice to the topic of Hillary Clinton, I would also need to write a second post on how sexism has affected her campaign (both now and back in 2008).
But as a feminist quite passionate about politics, I’ve finally decided to attempt this massive undertaking.
I usually make necessary reminders of my comment policy at the conclusion of my blog posts. However, considering the wildly misogynistic comments I’ve read and heard regarding Hillary Clinton, I feel compelled to issue this reminder at the beginning of my blog post. I do not permit name-calling. I do not permit misogyny. Furthermore, I require respect for both me and for anyone else who comments. Finally, I am quite capable of discerning between genuine questioning/disagreement and coded remarks not made in good faith. I have zero qualms about blacklisting the IP addresses of the latter.
With that rather lengthy introduction out of the way, let’s jump into why I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.
tl;dr President Bill Clinton is why I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton for president
I’m sure other people have similar simplistic reasons. Like they don’t think we need another Clinton in the White House, period, just like we don’t need another Bush in the White House.
Or they worry that Hillary Clinton as president would be Bill Clinton’s de facto second presidency. While that particular line of thought is on the sexist side, this is honestly the first time in American history when a former First Lady has a chance to become president. Hillary Clinton has already suggested that she would have Bill Clinton work to revitalize the American economy. This role for the first First Gentleman is a far cry from the usual First Lady roles of meeting with other heads of states and promoting agreeable causes like literacy (Barbara Bush) and beautification of public spaces (Lady Bird Johnson).
But my concern is quite different.
At the very least, Bill Clinton admitted to his “affair” with Monica Lewinsky. While a president engaging in sexual activity with an intern doesn’t quite meet the legal definition of sexual harassment according to the EEOC, it would be grounds for termination pretty much anywhere else. With a power differential that great, I would highly question how consensual any sexual activity would be.
But Bill Clinton’s sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, consensual or otherwise, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Juanita Broaddrick has alleged, repeatedly, that Bill Clinton raped her in 1978, when he was running for governor of Arkansas.
I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Ark. Attorney General raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now 73….it never goes away.
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) January 6, 2016
Trigger Warning: All of the following links include detailed descriptions of rape and traumatic aftermath.
I am the first to admit that three of these sources have a conservative bias. But Vox tends to be liberal media, and they linked to both the MRCTV video and the ShadowGov transcript. Slate is also liberal, but that article states the facts while explaining how the same facts can be interpreted two ways.
Juanita Broaddrick’s accusation against Bill Clinton is the most credible, as well as the one with the most sources. However, the earliest accusation of sexual assault dates back to 1969, when Bill Clinton was a college student. He was hardly a powerful man who might attract a false accusation.
Furthermore, when a man has a long list of accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape against him, I think it’s safe to conclude that at least some of them must be true.
The Silence of Feminists and Democrats Now
And yet so many feminists (and Democrats) today are largely silent on the question of whether or not the potential First Gentleman is a rapist. However, I appreciate the honesty of the author in the piece below.
I’m going to quote a lot from this article, because she articulates so many important points.
I was excited about Bill Clinton’s campaign, and I voted for him. I could not have been less concerned about Gennifer Flowers, who showed up in a press conference to announce she’d been his Little Rock mistress. I don’t care about the private, consensual sex lives of my elected politicians…
But then I heard about Paula Jones, who came forward with a very different story — of the ugliest type of workplace sexual harassment. I was shocked and I was disgusted, and I believed her. I assumed we all believed her. Wasn’t that how [feminists] were changing the country for victims of these kinds of acts?
Immediately I was told by my lefty friends and by the lefty press that I was foolish, that I was naive, that I didn’t understand politics…
If a man’s politics—not his personal behavior, his politics—were deemed to be pro-woman, his accuser would be subject to doubt, and to forensic levels of investigation and titanic public ridicule—even from other women…
So when Hillary Clinton tells you that “every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed and supported,” realize that what she’s serving up is a classic Clinton dodge. She’s not saying that every woman who reports a sexual assault deserves to be believed. In that case, we would have to believe Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick.
The Silence of Feminists and Democrats Then
I was young when Bill Clinton was in office himself. I don’t remember much about politics from then. However, I found an incredible article from 1998 on the feminist reaction after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
The summary/introduction reads:
President Clinton’s sordid entanglements with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and now Monica Lewinsky have drawn barely a squeak of protest from the powerful writers, lawyers, activists, politicians, and academics who call themselves feminists. As they struggle with fresh allegations from Kathleen Willey, the author reveals some ugly truths about the women’s movement and the commander in chief.
Basically, feminists both then and now hesitate to support the women allegedly attacked by Bill Clinton. He says the right things. I think America was okay during his presidency (I was a kid; everything was okay to me). Even I admit he’s good-looking and charismatic.
So why not continue to victimize a few women for the greater good?
At least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten from Democrats, feminist or otherwise. I’m sure there are exceptions somewhere, but every single time I have personally brought up the accusations against Bill Clinton with Democrats, the result has been a lot of hand-waving and dismissal. Plus, feel free to read through the articles I’ve linked above. They indicate that this reaction is not limited to my social circle.
Do Bill Clinton’s Actions Affect Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Bid? Arguments and Rebuttals
Not a single person has adequately responded to my reasoning for why I can’t support Hillary Clinton because of Bill Clinton. Here are the most common responses I’ve received.
Bill Clinton hasn’t admitted to any of the allegations
So we’re just sitting around and twiddling our thumbs until rapists turn themselves in? The vast majority of rapists will never see a day in jail. I have zero qualms with analyzing statements for myself and making a moral judgment against someone, even if that person never goes to trial.
After all, the four people who sexually assaulted me have received zero repercussions for their actions, legal or otherwise. I have been privy to the secrets of too many women and men who have also been sexually assaulted and/or raped. I believe them. I also understand why their attackers continue to walk free today.
Rapists don’t admit to rape–unless you don’t use the word “rape.” [Study 1; Study 2] Bill Clinton maintains he never raped or sexually assaulted anyone–he claims that all of his sexual encounters were consensual.
But I’ve weighed the accusations for myself, and I side with the women. After all, I can’t be the only one who recalls the infamous, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” I don’t need Bill Clinton to admit to sexual assault for me to make a moral judgment against him.
Bill Clinton wasn’t found guilty in a court of law
And neither were the four men who sexually assaulted me. Does that automatically make them innocent? Am I by default a liar, because like so many women before me, I didn’t know how to react in the moment? Because I kept silent about my first sexual assault for over a decade?
(By the way, my own history of people doubting and minimizing my experiences with sexual assault is also why I didn’t want to write this blog post. Because all the dismissals that progressives have given me when I’ve tried to bring up Bill Clinton’s history are practically verbatim to what people have said to me about my own sexual assaults).
Keep in mind how terrible America still was for women in the 1960s and 1970s, the years of the first accusations against Bill Clinton. Marital rape was legal. Second-wave feminists first coined the term “rape culture” in the 1970s as a reaction to most Americans assuming rape, incest, and spousal abuse were rare.
In 2016, survivors of sexual assault and/or rape are still reluctant to say anything or to press charges. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for a survivor 30+ years ago. Of course, Juanita Broaddrick has explained multiple times why she didn’t say anything then. From the Dateline report:
Myers: “The question everyone is going to ask is ‘Juanita, why didn’t you report this 21 years ago?’”
Broaddrick: “I didn’t think anyone would believe me in the world.”
I believe survivors of sexual assault, even when they don’t press charges.
Hillary Clinton isn’t responsible for her husband’s actions
I never said Hillary Clinton is responsible for Bill Clinton’s actions. I don’t think she should go to jail for what he did.
However, she is responsible for her decision to remain married to him. She is responsible for what she did to discredit the women who have accused her husband of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
As a feminist who genuinely supports survivors of sexual assault, I can’t support a woman who only cares about survivors when it’s politically expedient.
Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported. https://t.co/mkD69RHeBL
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 23, 2015
Hillary Clinton is just “standing by her man”
If Bill Clinton had just cheated on Hillary Clinton, that would be one thing. But the allegations suggest otherwise.
I highly doubt she is just upholding her wedding vows, considering her husband has obviously broken them countless times.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter why Hillary Clinton has decided to remain married to Bill Clinton. *coughpoliticalgaincough* People who support abusers don’t just get a pass because of marriage. (Obviously victims of abusers are the exception here, since it can be difficult from them to escape abusive situations).
Bill Clinton’s actions won’t affect Hillary Clinton’s presidency
Um, yes they will.
If Hillary Clinton is elected president, her husband will be the First Gentleman. He will be in the White House again. Will he actually treat the female employees and volunteers with respect? Or will they be subject to his sexual harassment, or worse?
Furthermore, Bill Clinton as First Gentleman would just continue to minimize and erase what he’s done to so many women.
How will a president Hillary Clinton genuinely promote any change to help survivors of sexual assault? It’s hard enough to get anyone to believe survivors already. If the half of voters who claim to care about preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors elect a woman who has repeatedly dismissed survivors of sexual assault, what does that say about our country? What does that say about the status of survivors?
I think it says that we only care about survivors of sexual assault when they don’t interfere with our political narrative.
I think it says that we value survivors only when they accuse our idea of a rapist. (Consider the discrepancy in sentences for two student athletes found guilty of rape–the white one will serve just a few months in a local jail).
You can’t judge Hillary Clinton for what Bill Clinton did
What if I discovered that he’s been giving me photos from other photographers this entire time?
What if I discovered that he had plagiarized his guest blog posts?
I could react in two ways.
I could make a public apology, take down his guest blog posts, and remove all photos stolen from other photographers.
Or I could discredit the photographers and the writers who accused him of creative and intellectual theft.
If I did the latter, that would hurt my brand. That would hurt my credibility. That would hurt my reputation as a blogger.
So why shouldn’t I judge Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton’s actions?
Hillary Clinton is better than Donald Trump, no matter what Bill Clinton did
Hillary Clinton is not a raging misogynist like Donald Trump; I’ll give you that.
I know other people have their own reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. (Frankly, more than a few of those reasons are sexist bullshit–see my follow-up blog post!)
But as a feminist, I cannot in good conscience support a woman who doesn’t support survivors of sexual assault.
P. S. For additional reading, see Hillary Clinton Has Earned Her Woman Card and I’m a Christian, and I’m Not Voting for Donald Trump.