Stern. Witchy. The ‘b’ word that rhymes with witchy. Shrill. Scolding.
I suspect that few of us would allow our husbands to use those words to describe us (even if they are thinking them on occasion) when they are in front of our children, especially not in the presence of our daughters.
Yet, innumerable journalists, especially men, have found it perfectly OK to describe Hillary Clinton in those words as she runs for president, plus many others that get used to describe powerful and assertive women. Hateful and prejudicial phrases that convey an underlying meanness and insecurity about females who challenge traditional stereotypes about women in our society.
If these men, many of whom undoubtedly have daughters, paid the tiniest bit of attention to what their children are focused on, they might rethink the vocabulary they are using to pillory Hillary.
Because believe it or not, our kids are paying attention. Even our youngest children.
Exhibit A? I volunteered for lunch table duty at my daughter’s school last week and I was shocked that the conversation topic of choice at two tables full of first- and second-graders was the presidential election.
Kids were polling each other about whether they wanted to vote for Barack or Hillary (sorry, I did not hear any child say they were for John McCain, but I think that’s just the neighborhood we live in!). I didn’t catch the reason that the boys wanted Obama to be president but the girls were clear — Hillary should be be president because it’s time for a girl to have a turn.
Eight-year-old logic at its finest.
But if seven-and eight-year-olds are choosing to talk about this on their own — really, I swear, I did NOT plant that seed at the lunch table! — then you know they’re also paying attention to what words we and news commentators use to describe the candidates.
She was generally talking about girls a bit older than the ones I sat with last week who were scarfing down chicken nuggets and jelly sandwiches, but the point is the same — our daughters are focused and invested in this presidential race because “a girl” — someone like them — wants to be in charge and make decisions.
Girl power is a very big thing for elementary school girls.
Since that’s the case, we all need to be careful how we describe Hillary because you can be sure that whatever we call Senator Clinton, our daughters are going to find a way to internalize that.
My second-grade daughter, like so many, thinks she can make good decisions and could possibly be president one day. But if we allow journalists, men or women, to continue to bash Hillary and her historic effort, we may as well tell our girls there’s no point to having that dream, or any dream, because they’ll only be mocked and ridiculed just the way Hillary Clinton has been.