In an unusual exchange on CNN, Republican strategist Ana Navarro blasted Hillary Clinton for supposedly playing up her female candidacy, with some critical words. On a panel discussing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the GOP strategist opined:
I don’t need her to drown me in estrogen every time she opens her mouth. Listen, every time she opens her mouth it’s about the granddaughter, and Chelsea’s wedding, and the yoga routines. You know, Hillary Clinton needs to stop being focus-grouped to death and be Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t need to have a sign that says, ‘I am woman, hear me roar’.
Navarro’s bizarre argument appears to be that presidential candidates shouldn’t talk about “womanly” things like their children or grandchildren during a campaign. Presumably, if Hillary Clinton wants to be President, the GOP strategist would prefer she discuss more “manly” presidential topics.
Apparently, Hillary Clinton should instead be discussing interest rates, gun policy, and perhaps how to keep “good Christian” employers from having to cover contraceptives in health plans for female employees. Or maybe, better yet, a really good candidate will drown us in testosterone, telling voters how they plan to teach Iran a lesson.
Ana Navarro may seem an unlikely mouthpiece for Republican misogyny, but the GOP probably believes that her status as a woman will give her cover to launch sexist attacks against Hillary. This makes her a promising surrogate to lead The GOP into the next battle in the war on women. Republican logic often is oversimplified to arguments akin to “see, it’s a woman making the statement, so therefore, it can’t be sexist.” But of course, by denigrating Hillary Clinton’s references to her family, Navarro is implying that connection to family is a feminine quality, and by extension that it is a negative quality for a presidential candidate to highlight.
Women in politics, and in the corporate world, often have to dance a fine line between masculinity and femininity. While qualities considered masculine are considered an asset in the corporate and the political world, a female who accents those qualities too much is accused of being “bossy” or worse. Yet, if a woman highlights qualities that are traditionally seen as feminine, she is considered “too soft” for the job. This double bind sometimes makes it very difficult for women to be taken seriously when they seek a promotion, or in politics, when they run for high office.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign will focus on families. While she may sometimes weave her own experience as a mother, grandmother, or wife into the narrative, her campaign will also be about other American families. She will discuss policies that can help lift the middle class, and those that help women achieve equal pay for equal work. Those are policies that are not defined by estrogen levels or testosterone levels, but rather they are defined by fairness, decency, and common sense. Until the Republicans offer a compelling alternative to fairness, decency, and common sense, their attacks on Hillary Clinton will continue to fall apart.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.