Democrats and the Left Must Stop Engaging In Institutional Sexism

The term institutional sexism refers to the selectively unjustified negative behavior against women as members of a social category. Although it can target men, the term is generally used to denote discrimination against girls and women. It has also been the explicit purview of the conservative movement and all its iterations whether they are congressional Republicans or religious fundamentalists.

Although America is a still a patriarchal and misogynistic society, until the past seven months Democrats were loath to engage in the sexism game either overtly or covertly.

It has been disappointing to watch a fair number of people on the Left, many avowed Democrats, attack a fellow Democrat based on their gender. Although it is not what one would necessarily label blatant sexism, it is sexism all the same. That professed ‘liberals’ are doing it so readily informs that either they are unaware of their actions, or are deliberately on a crusade to besmear the reputation of a woman’s character for no other reason than for political expediency.

Coming from alleged progressives and the “Left,” this covert and subtle sexism is simply disgusting. Over the past six months Hillary Rodham Clinton has been labeled everything from a warmonger to a neocon to a dispassionate corporatist and ‘no kind of progressive’ from many on the Left. This is in spite of the National Journal giving her a “liberal score” of 84 percent, and earning an “F” from the NRA.

She is regularly accused of being corrupt and “bought by Wall Street” as proof she is not a Liberal, even though leading Democrats, including her Democratic opponent, have received donations from the same Wall Street organizations. In fact, Hillary Clinton is regarded as “more liberal” than President Obama by the people the liberal movement oppose as a matter of course.

When Republicans launched their dubious investigation into a “corrupt,” “manipulative” and “dirty” Hillary Clinton for doing what Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell did in using his own personal email server, it was beyond the pale. It was also the continuation of a 24 year smear campaign of Clinton’s character; not her politics. That 24-year long smear campaign commenced when Clinton was First Lady and began her crusade for universal healthcare in 1993.

Sadly, many people calling themselves liberals and progressives have implemented the same character assassination practices that were implemented by Republicans to defame and sully Clinton’s character.  It certainly disabuses anyone of the idea that these “liberals” are anything remotely “progressive;” their “selectively unjustified negative behavior” against an accomplished woman portrays them as sexists and nothing else. The implication, although not directly verbalized, is that the only way a woman could ascend to greatness in a patriarchal society like America is through criminality, corruption, and subterfuge. It is a blatantly sexist assertion.

One expects the Republicans and their conservative pundits and media to continue the nearly quarter century of attacks on Clinton’s character; it is just what misogynists are prone to do. However, for anyone on the Left to embrace these dirty attacks and parrot the GOP rhetoric ad nauseam is an abomination. This is particularly true since, as former Democratic congressman Barney Franks recently wrote in an op-ed; every Republican rumor, false accusation and charge of criminality against Hillary Clinton ever leveled has been debunked; some recently and many two decades ago.

There are plenty on the Left who are likely too young to understand, but in their political zeal they have unknowingly adopted nearly everything created by the “vast right wing conspiracy” to destroy a powerful and accomplished woman’s character. Knowingly or not, her critics on the left are engaging in institutional sexism because their claims insinuate that Hillary Clinton could have never achieved what she has thus far without subterfuge, corruption, and depravity.

It is curious, and disappointing, that Democrats are employing character assassination tactics against another Democrat simply because she is an accomplished woman who is not their candidate of choice; they certainly withheld their harsh attacks from Martin O’Malley, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Sexism may not be their overt intent but that is not the point. The point is that parroting unfounded and debunked assertions against a woman who reached the upper echelons of power in her field implies that her achievements were gained through dirty tricks and corruption.

These insinuations are not a respectable Democratic campaign ploy; they feed an argument that Clinton’s success is undeserved and she is unworthy of a “real progressive’s” trust. It also “gives credence to America’s age-old patriarchal culture that celebrates and works tirelessly to brutally teardown accomplished women.”

Hillary Clinton, like her career politician opponent, is as her critics on the Left claim part of the “the establishment.” Like all “ambitious” women, and men as well, she is aware that in patriarchal America “gender constrains one to work within the system, rather than from outside of it.” However, despite every man in politics working “within the system” to achieve their political ambition, a woman aspiring to the Presidency is corrupt, deceitful, and manipulative according to every Republican alive and far too many on the Left. Assigning a different standard to a woman than a man is, whether deliberate or not, a blatant display of institutional sexism. It is ugly when Republicans do it, and simply hideous when it is coming from some on the Left.