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DID SEXISM AFFECT THE 2016 ELECTION?

In the course of a single conversation, I have been assured that Hillary is cunning and manipulative but also crass, clueless, and stunningly impolitic; that she is a hopelessly woolly-headed do-gooder and, at heart, a hardball litigator; that she is a base opportunist and a zealot convinced that God is on her side. What emerges is a cultural inventory of villainy rather than a plausible depiction of an actual person.  — Henry Louis Gates

Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against her own voice. –Michelle Obama, Inbound, 9/27/17

LEARN: Yes, it did. According to research, as a whole, Trump supporters (not all of them, of course) were much more likely to hold hostile sexist attitudes than to be concerned about the economy, and those attitudes accurately predicted which candidate the voter chose. In other words, in addition to Russian interference in our election, it was sexism, not economic issues, that led most directly to Trump’s “victory,” despite Clinton’s 3+ million more votes. After all, according to the Washington Post, the average Trump voter makes $73,000/year (1/3 below $50K, 1/3 $50-$100K, 1/3 $100K+)--hardly an impoverished group! Amber Phillips, of the Washington Post, describes additional research in her 4/17 Washington Post article, Hillary Clinton says 'misogyny played a role' in her loss. Research suggests she might be right." Despite the data, note how the media and even Democratic commentators, have repeatedly devalued the impact of sexism on the election. Perennial criticism of Clinton voters "because she's a woman," don't remark on how we've voted for men because they're men: Yes, I voted for Hillary Clinton because she's a woman (9/8/17, twitter). Note how thoroughly these same voices have offered their explanations for what the actual winner of the popular vote did wrong, how she didn't cater enough to white men: "I've been seething all day about the response to Hillary's book and I've finally channeled it into a coherent thread." Notice how, now, there are calls for her to step out of politics, whereas Bernie Sanders is being offered support (even though he couldn't even win the Democrat primary, has no supporters in Congress, says he is not a Democrat, won't apologize for calling Clinton unqualified, would not allow the DNC access to his email list during the general election (unprecedented), wouldn't match her in releasing multi-year tax returns, is under investigation for fraud, voted against the Russian sanctions, voted against the Brady gun control bill, and has never had a single piece of legislation passed in his long career). But he is a man.

What explains the treatment of a woman who won more votes than any candidate in history? And what treatment was that, again? Donald Trump is right: Hillary was held to a different standard (Bassett, 7/12/17, Huffington Post). Here's an article from July, 2016 (Goldberg, Slate) which discusses why: "Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at Stanford's Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the lead researcher on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, says that women who are successful in areas that are culturally coded as male are typically seen as "abrasive, conniving, not trustworthy, and selfish....[people will say] she's really good at her job, I just don't like her. They think they're making an objective evaluation, but when we look at the broader analysis, there's a pattern to the bias."

Were all Trump voters sexist? No. The greatest number of Trump's voters (and they are not a monolith; not all fit into one of these groups) seem to have been comprised of three main groups: conservative wealthier Republicans who voted based primarily on their economic interests, older voters who recognized in Trump's message a possible return to the masculine- dominant culture of the 1950s and early 1960s, and other voters driven by his "dog whistles" to racism, sexism and economic despair. See Dale Beran's post, "4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump," regarding that last group's motivation: "Trump supporters voted for the con-man, the labyrinth with no center, because the labyrinth with no center is how they feel, how they feel the world works around them." The world is changing with such speed, it's hard for most of us to recognize that current economic conditions are globally influenced. It's impossible to "turn back the clock" without getting rid of the internet, computers, and smartphones: automation is likely to replace over 1/3 of human jobs in the US within the next 13 years (Masunga, 3/24/17, Los Angeles Times).

Sexism was stoked by the far right during the campaign. The Washington Post’s Tromble & Hovy, on 2/24/16, reported on a fascinating and disturbing Twitter study done in order to determine where the hostile sexist tweets about Hillary Clinton originated: far right? Sanders supporters? "Bernie Bros?" In the unforgettable, “These 6 charts show how much sexism Hillary Clinton faces on Twitter," they broke it down:

Only 12 words associated with @BernieSanders carry gendered meaning. None were negative…In contrast, among the 29 gendered words associated with Clinton, 13 carry a negative connotation, including several related to her husband…We searched all tweets mentioning @HillaryClinton for any term from a set of 30 common gendered slurs, such as “bimbo,” “slut,” “whore,” and “shrill.” (A number of these slurs are too crude to mention.) The vast majority of the slurs were associated with Twitter users on the right — particularly self-identified Trump supporters. But 14.7 percent came from those backing Sanders. Among Sanders supporters, 60.6 percent tweeting gendered slurs were men, 29.2 percent women, and 10.1 percent unknown. Most slurs are used by both genders, but some seem more specific: in the data, “whore” was used as an insult mostly by female Sanders supporters…[overall, however] it seems relatively little abuse originates from the left. The fact that Sanders, also roundly denounced by the right, receives so little negative attention on Twitter fits with a gendered dynamic. Research shows us that all women —not just politicians, not just Clinton — are much more likely to face harassment and abuse online than are men.

Did fake news media (which recycles old gendered slurs and images) and social media sexism suppress voter's enthusiasm just enough for the woman who's won Most Admired Woman (Gallup Poll) in the United States 13 times, the most recent in 2016, to lose the electoral college? Sure. She only needed 11,000 votes in 3 states to win the electoral college: that's less than a small fraction of 1% of the vote.

MUST READ: Perhaps the most brilliant of all the articles published about sexism, misogyny, and the 2016 election was by Michael Arnovitz in The Policy, on 6/12/16: Thinking about Hillary: A Plea For Reason, and its follow-up. Both of them are devastating and crucial reads. If you had extremely negative views about Hillary Clinton, or just didn’t “trust her,” this article may upset you. But 2018 and beyond are coming. We’ve all got blind spots and warts, and we gain power when we are willing to look at our own with love and a steely eye, and strive to rise beyond them, not to flatly deny and project them like…someone else we know does, every day.

Want to see more? Check out the Fake News section for charts and graphs on the misogyny directed toward Clinton by the Press. Observe sexism directed toward her in real time, as Hillary Clinton launched her new SuperPac, Onward Together. Question and confront it when you witness it. Notice how, in 6/17, Trump continues to appeal to sexist attitudes to maintain popularity with his "Pittsburgh vs. Paris" slogan (in Sweeney's 6/9/17 Time Magazine article, Donald Trump's new slogan isn't about the climate. It's about gender).

Let’s never let this happen to the U.S. again. Take Political Action to combat sexism is upcoming campaigns.

Go to:

Human Rights: Sexism: Stop Sexism

Human Rights: Sexism: Challenge Internalized Sexism

Human Rights: Sexism

Human Rights: Racism (interacts with sexism in all cultures)

Human Rights

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