Monday, February 11, 2008

Hillary Clinton: A Tough Nut To Crack?

I just discovered these unique items at a local store and had to take a picture.

They are Hillary Clinton "nutcrackers". In case you can't tell by the photo, you crack the nut between her legs.

Yes, very classy.

This brought to my mind the bigger issue of how women in power are sometimes perceived or equated with the idea of shrill harpies or, in the example above, "nutcrackers."

Implied in the novelty nutcracker is the idea that Hillary Clinton is specifically targeting men to oppress them in some way, or at least piss them off.

Now, as I've made clear in an earlier post, I'm an Obama fan. But, I've seen nothing of Hillary Clinton that has led me to believe that she is a man-hater.

Why do women in power like Hillary get equated with man-haters?

In her case, part of that may be because warmth and bubbliness does not seem to be her first language.

But how many men in power lack warmth and bubbliness and nobody says "boo" about it?

Personally, I think it is easier for a woman in power to be liked if they do generate that warm quality. But they shouldn't have to, the same way men don't have to. If you can do the job, you can do the job. It's just when a woman is a no-nonsense, uncompromising leader, it's considered "threatening."

It doesn't mean she hates men. And the fact that there are products like this novelty nutcracker in America depresses me.

At any rate, you can bet your bottom dollar that I won't be buying the Hillary Nutcracker. Or the Bill salad-tosser either.


  1. I think you mean "klassy."

    I saw this item too, and was also depressed by it. We still have a long ways to go.

  2. my reading of items like this is less that she is out to oppress men than she is out to replace men, to remove them from their "traditional" roles. or at least that is how i see people reacting to these type of items.

    she is here literally cracking nuts, breaking balls, etc, or replacing the male power region with her own brand of female empowerment.

    I know far too many people who dislike her for what she represents, not for her policies or whatnot, but that she represents a change in the order of things they wish were static.

    i am not a hillary fan, but the logic they use makes me want to take up her cause, well until i remember that she is the political status quo in different dress.

  3. I'm soooo tired of hearing the "Old Boys Club" (or whatever) line of reasoning. My boss is an asshole; no one in my company likes him. I'm warm, friendly, and nice to everyone I meet at work; people like me. People, not just men, but people, don't like assholes. Hillary = asshole, therefore people don't like her. Trying to say it's because she's a strong woman and saying people don't mind strong men is just a straw man argument. Yes, anyone who doesn't like a woman who's in power is a sexist. But people are allowed to not like assholes no matter what their gender is. To only dislike men who are in power and assholes would be just as sexist as to only dislike women assholes in power.

  4. Kenny's comment brings to mind a certain discussion of nomenclature in Parker & Stone's Team America [NSFW!].

  5. Salad tosser? Eww...

    As for Hillary, maybe people don't like her because she's an asshole. I don't think she is (or at least, I don't think she stands out from the pack in that regard), but opinions vary. But that doesn't explain why the attacks on her "nutcracker, ballbuster, bitch" are so gendered, while the attacks on say, Rudy Giuliani (incompotent megolomaniac gloryhound) aren't.

  6. Kenny does make a point re: there being a valid reason to dislike Hillary, but Kenny, Hillary is only an example of the wider question of: why do (some) men have this knee-jerk reaction to women in power?

    New Zealand, my country, which I will never shut up about on the Internet, went through a couple of years worth of hand wringing about stuff like this a while back. Our prime minister is a woman ("Auntie" Helen Clark, Labour), at one point the leader of the opposition and the PM were women, our Attorney General as well as our Governor General (who is like our liason with the Queen of England, our titular monarch who can't even be bothered to attend the funerals of national heroes and stuff) are women, the CEO of our largest telecomunications company (imaginatively called Telecom) was a woman, etc.

    Much hand wringing was made about, 'oh, this is a sign that men are becoming wusses, that the country is run by women! Who will be the role models for our boys?' and 'oh, no wonder the economy/morality/whathaveyou is going to the lavatory, the womens are in charge!'

    (I hasten to add that this talk mostly came from journalists with too much time on their hands, and the kind of people who call into talkback radio. I don't know what the American equivalent would be- secular Fox News fans?- I generalise only to denigrate those whose ideologies I despise as my scorn is the only weapon left to me, but, moving on-)

    The point was made that both our women PMs, Auntie Helen and Jenny Shipley, were rather... bossy, shouty types who wore power suits (shoulder pads optional) and weren't, well, fading wallflowers and exemplars of 'traditional' femininity. I believe the general consensus was that these were the kind of behaviours that enabled one to succeed in politics, regardless of gender. Its not so much an issue now, I think.

    I had a point. Yeah. This is it:

    The Penile Hive Mind can't handle not being in charge. Its a threat to tradition, and they can't handle women who don't fall into their precious little boxes of how to catergorise women. Individual men will have reasons- some quite valid- to dislike these women (eg: Hillary's a political opportunist and her healthcare plans are idealistic) and the Hive Mind is good at co-opting these reasons, so good that it can be hard to distinguish between the two.

    ...I don't really have an answer. And sorry that this whole thing was a whole lot more stream-of-consciousness than I thought it would be when I started it. I'll see if I can't organise my thoughts more when I get home from work.

    And Rob S: Being a woman is a crime, remember? Them and all their Forbidden Fruit Tempting kind. (Ah, the sarcasm. You never leave me.)

  7. These exist due to the same reasoning that asshat Matt Drudge used when he decided to run a photo of a tired, weary Clinton during the NH primaries above his headline without saying a word about any of the male candidate's appearances: misogyny.

    The US was founded as a patriarchal society and, just as notions of puritanism still exist, sexism is alive and well. In a nation that is vastly becoming even more
    Christian centric, a nation where someone like Mike "I Don't Believe In Evolution" Huckabee can actually win primaries, someone like Senator Clinton is the opposite of everything that scares them. She is a strong, liberal woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and, in doing so, she is labeled a hardass ballbreaker. The whole notion is crap.

    The national press and political machines are still very much a good old boys club. The US can't even pass an ERA (for example). General public acceptance and perpetuations of misogyny, not only in the political machinations, but in the collective general consciousness, sustain the status quo.

    Whether or not you agree with her politics, you should be appalled at this kind of treatment of her, and strong women in general.

  8. I find that criticisms of Hillary say at least as much about the person complaining as they do about her. I always liked her as a person (although I prefer Obama as a candidate). People-- that is, men and the women who depend upon them -- are very threatened by the idea of a woman with her own education and ambitions.

  9. I'm posting again because I think I may have skimmed over a point I just take for granted: anyone who doesn't respect someone else because of their gender, race, sexuality, etc, is a special kind of ignorant asshole. Anyone who trivializes someone else based on their gender is the same kind of asshole. I think, whether you agree with her or disagree with her, like her or dislike her, Hillary Clinton is due the respect of anyone who's dedicated themselves to running for office; they can be made fun of for what they say or what they've done, but not for their genetic make-up. I think anyone who crosses that line should be ignored.

    I guess I also don't want the kid gloves being used just because she's a woman, either. A woman friend of mine, upon learning that I was not a Clinton fan, accused me of not liking her just because she's a strong woman. It's that defense I don't like: if you don't like X, you're one of "them." People can not like something or someone without being part of the classless. Men are allowed to not like Hillary Clinton without sharing the sentiments of the makers of some cheap, crass novelty item.

    Sorry for the lengthy reply. All the wonderful comments on here got me thinking! LOL I love the community here because everyone always puts so much thought into their replies.

  10. If all objections to Hillary Clinton are rooted, whether consciously or not, in a societal (or Penile Hivemind) fear and hatred of women, couldn't the same be said that subconsciously or not, people who don't support Obama are racist? Is the race really breaking down to who people hate less (or hate more, I don't know how people's roiling inner hatreds will break), blacks or girls?

  11. A lot of the rhetoric of this campaign has been sad to see. And it's always unfortunate to be a part of a group (those opposing Sen. Clinton's campaign) in which the most visible members of that group are the assholes (such as the "Iron my shirts!" guys).

    Something like this Clinton nutcracker is reprehensible, since it's an attack on Sen. Clinton's gender rather than her politics or record (though it's slightly less ugly than I had heard--Robin Morgan claimed on NPR that it had spikes on the insides of its thighs). It's a dangerous area we've gotten into when both the supporters and, maybe even more, the detractors of the remaining Democratic candidates see them as much or more as representatives of a group than as individuals.

    Even people I respect have gone down this road. Gloria Steinem's op-ed in the New York Times read to me as "who's been more oppressed?" Whether I agree with her conclusions on that question or not, I think we're arguing the wrong thing when we argue that, and things like this nutcracker only reinforce that kind of attack-the-group thought.

    The candidates may not have helped this. As a supporter of Sen. Obama, I'm probably biased––I've tended to feel that Sen. Clinton has been more guilty of trying to benefit from the "gender card" while exploiting the "race card" (The Times' Frank Rich commented in his column yesterday on both Clintons' use of race in the campaign, such as the total absence of any black questioners in Sen. Clinton's televised town hall meeting on the Hallmark Channel), but some of Sen. Clinton's supporters probably feel like the opposite is true. For myself, I can't help but feel like things like the "Iron my shirt" guys and the Clinton nutcracker are the actions of a pathetic few quickly becoming obsolete. I don't pretend that there aren't real equality issues, but I can't quite bring myself to condemn the media for treating this incident with "amusement," as some have done (though referring to the comments as "seemingly sexist" was indeed moronic). Amusement seems about the right response to backward idiots so out of touch with the modern world, and amusement needn't exclude condemnation.

    But I do think they're an increasingly small minority (not that that makes them irrelevant) when you consider that both Sens. Obama and Clinton are drawing record support for the primary season. As much as some people may never give up their misogyny, just as many are voting for Sen. Clinton as for Sen. Obama and are excited to do so, and of course many more are voting for either of them than for any Republican.

    So, I think that's improving, and as far as warmth and bubbliness goes, I think that's something voters do want from all politicians, including men. That same lack of warmth and bubbliness is what cost Al Gore the presidency (or, if you prefer, got Pres. Bush the statistical tie that allowed him to steal it). There are still issues for Sen. Clinton surrounding this, but as she may well win the nomination and even the election, it's hard to say as yet that it's truly holding her back. As for my point, I think I may have lost that along the way, victim of the fact that so many of these issues have been mixed together this election year, sometimes productively, sometimes not.

  12. Nutcracker? See? Get it? She's a woman? Hahhahahah!! Man, that rocks! Wankers.
    Actually, if I were Senator Clinton, I'd sell the damn things on my campaign web-site. I'm not much of a Hillary Clinton fan, either, but her main draw for me will be watching all the Right Wing heads explode when she wins. Assuming she even gets the nomination, of course...

  13. I'm torn as well.

    The people making this kind of crap are reprehensible and have serious issues. That goes without question.

    On the other hand, I do feel Hillary has played the gender card in her favor, so I don't know that I feel she can cry foul when it's played against her (which doesn't mean that the rest of us can't cry foul).

    And yes, I'm an Obama supporter, but no, it's not because of her gender or his race. I don't trust her because she always seems to take the politically expedient course (going back to marrying Bill and not dumping his ass for repeatedly cheating on her and continuing through voting for the Iraq War Powers act), and like her husband, will say anything to get what she wants.

    I do look forward to the day when women and non-Anglos can run for office, and no one feels the need to comment on their gender/race/ethnicity, etc. Within my lifetime, I hope.

  14. Even Robert's comments previous strike me as mixing up issues.

    I too feel that Sen. Clinton is overly calculating in her politics and campaign (insisting that it was okay that hers was the only name on the ballot in Michigan (except, I think, Kucinich) because those votes wouldn't matter before turning around and insisting on those votes counting when she needed them is eerily similar to Pres. Bush's campaign's actions in 2004 when they set their convention in September to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11, too late for his name to appear on the Ohio ballot in November--naturally they insisted the rules didn't apply to them and had them changed). I also think it's unrealistic to believe she would enjoy the visibility and name recognition she has were she not the former first lady.

    However, I'm not comfortable ascribing political motives to her marriage or her forgiveness of Pres. Clinton.

    Not only has the way the Clinton's have handled their marriage and its problems shown more maturity and affection than many people, including some of her political opponents, but the implication that she's attached herself to a politically powerful man for calculated reasons strikes me as another attack on her gender more than her as an individual. There is simply no way to know what her reasons are, and there's no evidence to suggest that either getting or staying married to Pres. Clinton was politically motivated.

  15. I guess it's because if a guy's an asshole, he can fire you. It'll suck, but it's just getting fired. Too easy for a woman who's an asshole to pile some sexual harassment on top and not just get you fired, but get the word out that you're a sleazy, digusting pig too.

    I'm sure now I'll be psychoanalysed as a woman-hating slimeball who doesn't even merit personhood because I have the gall not to bend over backwards in support of womynkind.

  16. If Hillary were even a quarter as abrasive, irritable, and mean as John McCain is, she'd never have had a political career to begin with. So I'd call it something of a double standard.