Although Hillary Clinton selected Tim Kaine as her Vice President in this campaign, her true running mate might very well be her vagina. Indeed, while Clinton’s support continues to be among the lowest for any Democratic nominee in recent memory, she has managed to position her gender as a focal point of her campaign, a move intended to capture the women’s vote among liberals and conservatives alike. And, considering her opponent is Donald Trump, a man seen by millions of women as a misogynistic loudmouth, she has done this quite successfully.
But beyond the political window-dressing and empty rhetoric, Clinton’s record on women and families should not only lose her the support of American women, it should qualify her as one of the most anti-woman candidates in history. For while modest progress has been made toward some semblance of gender equality, it is the actions of Clinton herself that have done more than any other single individual to harm women and families. Slick public relations aside, Hillary Clinton may very well be the most anti-woman candidate in generations.
Hillary’s Relentless Attack on Women and Families
“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st Century.” So said Hillary Clinton in a 2011 interview with Newsweek. And this quote, among many others, has been trumpeted by Clinton supporters as the revelation of the angel of feminism, the gospel according to Saint Hillary. But in probing a little more deeply, some disturbing questions emerge which seem to cast doubt on her commitment to the rights of women and girls, both in the 21st Century, as well as at the end of the 20th Century.
As First Lady, Hillary Clinton, along with her then President husband Bill Clinton, did more than anyone to make the lives of poor and working class women and girls all the more precarious. Perhaps no single action taken by the Clintons did more to harm women and families than the evisceration of welfare. As part of a deeply cynical, and unconscionably reckless, strategy to win over racist white voters, the Clintons set their sights on Black and Latino women and children, portraying them as parasitical exploiters of hard-working whites.
After having supported her husband’s goal of “ending welfare as we know it,” Clinton was instrumental in ginning up support for the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). This bill, passed with the support of a right wing Republican Congress, effectively ended welfare programs designed to provide real assistance to women and children in desperate need. And, despite countless experts denouncing the law, including a close friend and former assistant secretary of social services at the Department of Health of Human Services, Hillary continued to defend it. Speaking of the destruction of welfare, Clinton told the Gettysburg Times in 2002, “Now that we’ve said these people are no longer deadbeats – they’re actually out there being productive – how do we keep them there?”
Such callous disregard for the reality of poverty and the difficult circumstances in which millions of women and children live demonstrates precisely what sort of “feminist” Hillary Clinton is: a neoliberal corporate exploiter without a penis. For Clinton, what matters is not the material reality of women’s lives, but rather how best to exploit them for political gain. As feminist scholars Alejandra Marchevsky and Jeanne Theoharis noted:
“[PRWORA’s] legacy still ripples through the country, where families remain as poor as—or, in many cases, poorer than—before, but with one crucial difference: Today, the “reformed” welfare system provides little safety net, and no hand-up. Instead, it traps poor mothers into exploitative, poverty-wage jobs and dangerous personal situations, deters them from college, and contributes to the growing trend of poor mothers who can neither find a job nor access public assistance. It is our failed social policy—not simply the recession—that is responsible for crisis-level poverty in the United States.”
Of course, such painful realities are taboo subjects for the devout adherents of the Gospel According to Hillary, where the sacred scriptures tell of a crusading archangel come to Earth to protect the downtrodden women from the oppression of patriarchy. Perhaps church dogma will need to be updated to account for the fact that Clinton’s welfare “reform” reduced the percentage of households eligible for assistance from 68 percent to 26 percent, while the value of a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) check has dropped by 20 percent. Of course, the Church of Latter Day Corporate Feminists will ignore these, and myriad other, statistics which demonstrate that rather than a champion of poor women and families, Hillary has been one of their main antagonists.
But Hillary’s vicious assault on women and families goes far beyond just the gutting of welfare. Indeed, the development of the mass incarceration state and prison-industrial complex is intimately tied to the policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Hillary was the leading edge of the campaign to pass her husband’s infamous 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (aka the “Crime Bill”) which disproportionately targeted people of color and led to the rise of the mass incarceration state or, as Michelle Alexander famously dubbed it, “The New Jim Crow.” Writing in The Nation in 2016, Alexander explained that the Clinton Crime Bill was responsible for:
* the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history
* the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing and boosted funding for drug-law enforcement
* the idea of a federal “three strikes” law
* a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes
* the mandating of life sentences for some three-time offenders
* authorizing more than $16 billion for state prison grants and the expansion of police forces
* African Americans constituting 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they’re no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs
* A 50% increase in African American incarceration by the year 2000
While Alexander was highlighting the racial disparities and continued oppression of Black America thanks to the Clintons, embedded in that very same analysis is the obvious fact that Clinton’s Crime Bill devastated Black and Latino families, locking up millions of fathers (and mothers), breaking apart families, displacing children, and doing irreparable harm harm to a generation of minority women and children. And, as if the social impacts weren’t enough, Clinton was quick to refer to the children of these families as “superpredators,” a remarkable two-for-one comment which demonstrated both Hillary’s racism and anti-minority family outlook.
Perhaps real women and children don’t fit into Hillary’s conception of “feminism”? Or, better still, perhaps the real question should be: feminism for whom? Clinton’s domestic track record demonstrates that it is affluent white women who truly are the focus of her brand of corporate neoliberal feminism.
For Clinton, the great triumph of feminist action is not the empowerment of working class and poor women and families, but rather the entry of elite white women into the ruling class. One might call it Feminism for the 1%.
No wonder Madeleine “500,000 dead Iraqi children was worth it” Albright remarked in February 2016 that there was “a special place in hell” for women who don’t support Hillary Clinton. Albright may very well be projecting here as, if there is a hell, her seat at the VIP table is undoubtedly already reserved. Maybe she’ll keep Hillary’s seat warm for her.
Imperial Feminism: Hillary’s Bloody Hands
Clinton hasn’t only built her “feminist” credentials on the oppression and suffering of women and families in the US; her foreign policy achievements have managed to kill, maim, and otherwise destroy the lives of millions of women and children around the world. Such is the record of the corporate imperialist Clinton.
During her husband’s presidency, Hillary was a vocal advocate for the barbaric sanctions regime, as well as the No-Fly Zone and other belligerent actions taken by her husband against the Iraqi Government of Saddam Hussein. In fact, many experts have noted that the Clinton Iraq policy essentially laid the groundwork for George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. In particular, Hillary was a leading proponent of the sanctions which, according to the UN, killed roughly 500,000 children.
And, of course, there’s Hillary’s infamous support for Bush’s Iraq War when she was a Senator from New York. Clinton explained to the Council on Foreign Relations in December 2003, “I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote….I stand by the vote.” Of course this was in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Saddam Hussein, a time when one could still justify support for a war that, just a few years later, proved to be politically unpalatable, to say nothing of it being an egregious war crime, as we all knew from the beginning.
And Hillary was not perturbed in the slightest at the hundreds of thousands of women and children whose lives were irrevocably destroyed by the war and its aftermath, one which is still being reckoned with today.
Hillary and Bill – the power couple tag team of Washington – also led the charge to bomb Serbia in 1999. During the 78 days of “Operation Allied Force” more than 2,000 civilians were killed, including 88 children. Naturally, this was of little consequence to the great feminist heroine Hillary who, according to biographer Gail Sheehy, proudly proclaimed “I urged [Bill Clinton] to bomb [Serbia].” The barbarism and sheer viciousness of someone who gleefully takes credit for the deaths of scores of children and countless thousands of women should give anyone who believes in the Hillary the feminist mythos serious pause.
Who could forget Libya? In the war championed by Hillary Clinton, who is regarded by experts as being the loudest voice in favor of regime change against Gaddafi and the destruction of the country, tens of thousands of women were raped, lynched, and murdered by the glorious “rebels” (read terrorists) backed by Clinton and her imperial coterie. Perhaps the great feminist hero could speak to the children of Misrata, Sirte, and Bani Walid who have now grown up without their mothers and fathers, and explain to them just how “worth it” the war was. Maybe Clinton could look mothers in the eyes and tell them how the deaths of their children from war, disease, and terrorism is a small price to pay for the foreign policy objectives of Washington.
And let us not forget about Honduras, the country suffering under a right wing dictatorship helped into office by then Secretary Clinton. Hillary brazenly, and rather despicably, took credit for her handiwork in her autobiography Hard Choices where she explained that, “In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico… We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of [elected President Manuel] Zelaya moot.”
Indeed, Clinton was instrumental in bringing the right wing coup government to power. And that government today carries out systematic oppression of women and indigenous communities throughout the country. In a high profile assassination, renowned indigenous activist and feminist Berta Cáceres was gunned down by assailants tied to the government installed by Clinton. In fact, Cáceres herself called out Hillary Clinton prior to her death. In a 2014 interview, Cáceres said:
“We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it. It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, ‘Hard Choices,’ practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here she [Clinton] recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency.”
It would be impossible to catalog all of Hillary’s crimes against women and children in this short piece. One should remember the children of Haiti living in inhumane conditions thanks in no small part to the continued exploitation of their country by the likes of Bill, Hillary, and the Clinton Global Initiative. One should remember the children of Afghanistan living with what peace activist and frequent visitor to Afghanistan, Kathy Kelly, describes as permanent post-traumatic stress disorder. One should remember the women and children of Sudan who died after Bill Clinton deliberately bombed a pharmaceutical factory in that country, thereby depriving women and children of much needed medicines. And Syria. And Venezuela. And Pakistan. And Iran. And Russia. And Ukraine. The list goes on and on.
And let’s recall also Hillary’s support for the Obama Administration’s policy of child deportations. What a champion of the rights of children. Do you wonder if Hillary loses any sleep over the fates of thousands of children from Honduras, El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America, knowing that she is directly responsible for their suffering? And how about Hillary’s cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia, the world’s most oppressive country for women?
Far from being a feminist, Hillary Clinton is a serial exploiter, and serial killer, of women and children; her track record speaks for itself. The ongoing economic oppression and suffering of women and children in poverty can be directly traced to Hillary’s “pioneering work” as an advocate for the welfare reform now almost universally seen as a disaster for poor women and children. Clinton’s record on children in other countries is equally disturbing.
In short, Clinton is no feminist, at least not in the real sense. She is not interested in true empowerment of women, only in the empowerment of herself. And she cares not a whit how many women and children will be trampled along the way.
Corporate imperialism is not feminism, even when done by a woman. Hopefully more American women will realize that before it’s too late. Needless to say, Hillary’s betting that they won’t.