Trust, gender queerness, and Hillary Clinton

annetaintorpantsElizabeth Kolbert asks, “How can Americans trust Donald Trump?”  After all, as she notes, “As has been amply documented, Trump’s relationship to the truth is on par with his relationships with women—opportunistic and abusive. Daniel Dale, a Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, who since mid-September has been publishing a more or less daily tally of Trump’s false claims, recently called the Republican candidate’s campaign rhetoric a veritable ‘avalanche of wrongness.'”  He lies constantly, unabashedly, and aggressively.

This, as Kolbert goes on to note, is precisely why people see him as more honest than Hillary Clinton:  he lies with gusto and conviction, which makes his lies feel true to people:

One way to understand the up-is-down logic of this election is as an expression of what might be called American sentimentalism. What moves the electorate is not true facts but true feelings.

Donald Trump is the kind of jerk who authentically, genuinely, unabashedly inhabits his own jerkiness. The indifference to reality he’s displayed on the campaign trail is the same indifference he displayed as a businessman, a husband, a boss, and a taxpayer. His narcissism, petulance, and whatever other character flaw you care to choose aren’t under wraps; they’re on view for all to see and hear. In this sense, he truly is the real thing.

By way of contrast, Kolbert argues, Clinton’s emotional control and public presentation of herself feels inauthentic because it’s so polished.  “Clinton, meanwhile, is constantly role-playing. On the campaign trail, she displays an interest in people that, one can only assume, she doesn’t always feel. In her speeches, she invokes lofty ideals, when doubtless she’s often motivated by expedience. The high-minded, Presidential persona she’s committed to is constraining in many ways.”  In other words, she behaves like we expect most adults with any modicum of authority to behave.

Kolbert is right, but as I’ve pointed out repeatedly here (see the links below!), one reason Clinton’s polished role-playing rubs people as inauthentic or untrustworthy is that she’s a woman seeking a promotion, and we all know (and as I have repeatedly pointed out on this blog–again, see below!), women who ask for promotions are seen as less likable, a quality closely related to trustworthiness.  We expect men to seek more for themselves.  Ambition is praised in men, whereas it’s seen as a character flaw in women.  Asking for more money and/or more authority is a gender-queer thing for a woman to do, and as we all know, gender queerness puts the zap on some people’s brains.  It  makes them uncomfortable and less likely to say that they “like” or “trust” someone.

In the end, I still don’t think it’s going to matter that some Americans say they don’t trust or like Hillary Clinton.  Large majorities say that she’s qualified to be president, and I have confidence that my fellow citizens are not angry or reckless enough at Hillary Clinton to elect the Human Stain president.

annetaintorladypresidentAnd by the way:  if Hillary Clinton is our president-elect as of next Wednesday morning, please thank every non-white voter and female voter you see.  We’re the patriotic Americans who love our country so much that we’re pulling it back from the brink of destruction.

I say this, but I know most of you won’t thank us.  You’ll bitch for the next four years about how Presicunt Killary Clinton is history’s greatest monster, seizing your guns and using them to execute all the unborn babies.  But I know that you know she’s the only thing standing between us and fascism, and you’ll never forgive her for that, will you?

10 thoughts on “Trust, gender queerness, and Hillary Clinton

  1. Yes, all of this.

    I once worked for a man who lied with the same gusto and conviction as Trump, which some translated as him having “charisma.” He shouldn’t have been in charge of a small organization, but he was. It was the worst employment experience of my life. To think that someone with these qualities could be in charge of a nation is horrifying.

    Sadly, many people will believe the compulsive liar who lies with confidence than the policy wonk who comes off as “robotic.”

    Speaking if which, did you catch Barbara Ehrenreich’s both-sides-are-just-as-bad piece in The Guardian? Sure, she acknowledges, Trump is a racist, xenophobic sexual predator, but Hillary is robotic and diplomatic, so it’s a real lose-lose.

    I usually like Ehrenreich’s stuff, but this one? Just, no. It’s like a glimpse into what narratives would have been like under a Sanders/Trump race, the privileging of class analysis while erasing gender, race, and other analyses.


    • OMG. What happened to Ehrenreich? I guess the BernieBots took over and she’s making them all sandwiches, or something. This is just delusional: “On the liberal left, tragically, we do not have Bernie Sanders, who would have dispatched Trump’s populist pretensions with a wrist flick.”

      Right. She’s certifiably insane.


      • Oh, I know, that bit about how the great, completely-unvetted Saint Bernie would have easily dispatched Trump. If only we had picked a man to do a man’s job of defeating Trump.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This rings true to me. The only modification I’d make is that I suspect she actually does care a good deal about the people whose stories she hears, and uses as examples, even if she’s not always sure how to effect changes that would improve their lives, or even able to tell what those changes would be (because every decision has multiple results, including all sorts of unintended consequences).

    One thing I don’t get: given Obama’s lack of success in taking away everyone’s guns, even after Newtown (I’m leaving aside for the moment the fact that he doesn’t actually want to seize everyone’s guns, because that fact isn’t relevant here; the perception in some quarters that he wants to is), why do people think Hillary is going to succeed where he failed? Even in the Senate, the House of Representatives, *and* the Supreme Court swing in a more liberal direction (which seems unlikely to happen, or persist), there’s still the constitution, and legal precedent in interpreting it, and the role of state legislatures in amending it. The whole checks and balances thing seems likely to keep us somewhere more or less in the middle of the possible approaches (which, of course, is precisely what it’s designed to do).

    Maybe that’s the response of an overeducated person?


    • I think she cares too–but I don’t think she gets any credit for it. Maybe I’m just projecting, because what person in her right mind would put herself through all this at age 69 if it were merely a personal vanity project. (Well, sorry–I guess there’s Trump!) What kind of normal, empathic person, I mean?

      But if you’re someone who *just knows* she’s a liar and a fraud, then looking like she cares is just a performance. There’s nothing authentic–it’s a sham.

      Re: the gun thing. It’s merely a cultural signal manipulated by the gun manufacturers. It’s eclipsing abortion as a signifier of political or tribal affiliation, as the U.S. becomes less affiliated religiously (and state ledges have effectively chipped away at abortion rights, unfortunately.)


  3. I had a dean who was a narcissist, and narcissists are always good liars, because they are the center of their worlds.

    I’ve been busy reading my copyedited ms, and realizing that everything I wrote about women, sex and power two years ago has far more resonance at this moment.


    • Yay for your book being timely, but BOO to all of the reasons why it will be that we’ve suffered through over the past 16-17 months.

      And here’s to the satisfaction all of us broads who’ve been told we’re too prepared, too polished, too ambitious and therefore unlikable, cold, etc. to get the job if Hillary Clinton wins on Tuesday night.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Question of Trust, Truthiness Dept. | From Pine View Farm

  5. Anyone who believes that the Republicans didn’t have their attack points against Sanders lined up and ready is hopelessly naive and probably shouldn’t be pontificating on anything. Remember when decorated veteran Kerry was supposed to trounce draft-weaseling, war-starting hypocrite Bush Jr.?

    Let’s not forget that Bernie premiered the “I was robbed!” theme that Trump took up. I mean, why would the DNC support someone who has worked her butt off for the party and other Dem candidates for 30+ years over the guy who accepted the party label only when he wanted to jump to the top, right? I think for once someone in the DNC had enough of a clue to realize that if they undercut the uber-qualified woman in favor of the male pop-star-of-the-moment candidate a second time they risked kissing off women’s votes and, as importantly, women’s money.

    I sent in my absentee ballot last week. I’ll wash the Hillary pantsuit design T-shirt I wore to phone bank yesterday and wear it under my other shirt Tuesday. Hopefully Wednesday I can pull out the Hillary action figure I’ve been carrying in my backpack and greet it as Mme. President. While I’d prefer to greet her in person, it’ll have to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like a plan, K. I’m just back from door-knocking all day long – put 9.3 miles on my pedometer! I’m thinking about busting out my one and only pantsuit from the early 2000s to wear to classes on either Monday or Wednesday.


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