In the 2016 Democratic primary, we have two strong candidates. There are legitimate reasons to prefer one candidate over the other. Most of us do. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to critique Hillary Clinton on her policy positions, past speeches/votes/decisions, etc. As a Hillary supporter, I want to hear such critiques and dialogue with those who have opinions that differ from my own. After all, my fiance is “feeling the Bern” and we are still happily engaged.
However, to be frank, I am tired of hearing people complain about Hillary Clinton’s voice. Is she loud? Yes. IT’S A POLITICAL DEBATE. In political debates, people vigorously defend their policy positions. When have you ever seen a candidate sit back and say, “Oh gee thanks, you’re right, I’m wrong, sorry I’m running for president and taking up your time.”
Before dismissing the possibility that sexism is at play here, please think carefully. As a woman in academia, I can say that many people are still very uncomfortable with a woman being assertive. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been told I was “loud” or should “calm down.” Every day, I witness female students (undergraduates all the way up to the doctoral level) apologize for raising their hand to make a point, or for disagreeing with a professor or fellow student. Numerous studies have shown that American workers still prefer a male boss to a female boss. A male leader is strong and efficient, while a female one is often “bitchy” and “loud.” Women are still subject to scrutiny for their appearance more so than men (Barack Obama’s suits never seemed to get as much air time as Hillary Clinton’s did in 2008). Women are expected to always smile (yes, it was also wrong to criticize Carly Fiorina for not smiling enough), be polite, and look pretty. I am not accusing men here, women expect this of other women too, albeit often unconsciously.
There is nothing wrong with not liking what a woman (or any public person) has to say. All I ask is that we all think twice before criticizing the way she says it or for defending her beliefs (even if they are not your own). There are a lot of questions Hillary may need to answer from voters, but she does not need to apologize for taking up space.
Personally, I want a president who is loud (I think most of us do!). I want a president who feels passionately about the issues facing this country. I want a president who is going to be boisterous in protesting Congressional attempts to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care, or to defund Planned Parenthood, or to justify discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Last night, I was very proud of both candidates, namely for talking about the issues that matter instead of the size of Donald Trump’s you-know-what. Did things get heated? Yes. But BOTH candidates interrupted one another to correct what they believed were misrepresentations of their views, and BOTH candidates were pretty vocal in defending themselves against criticism. And I am glad they did! That’s how debates work. That is why moderators are there.
So, please, tell me why you are voting for Bernie Sanders. Challenge me. Ask me questions. I am not always right, neither is Hillary Clinton (or anybody!) But, please, don’t tell me to be quiet or lower my voice (unless we are in church or the library or a context where it is inappropriate to argue politics). And don’t tell Hillary to lower her’s either!
A Loud and Proud Female Voter