‘What Happened,’ and what needs to happen now

This week, my hero, better known as Hillary Rodham Clinton, had a slew of TV news appearances. Watching her on The Today Show on Wednesday morning, and The Rachel Maddow Show on Thursday night, it all came rushing back: that singular moment when she seized the Democratic nomination; my confidence that during the General Election, she would win the popular vote; and the complete, unprecedented (un-presidented?) devastation on election night, when I realized that I had been only half right.

Hillary Clinton on the TODAY show
Hillary Clinton in her Sept. 13, 2017 appearance on the TODAY Show.

The specifics of her second bid for president and its catastrophic end are well-documented elsewhere. What Clinton focused on during her appearances is the namesake of her new memoir: What Happened.

What, indeed.

According to Clinton, the major blow was dealt by James Comey, the (now former) director of the FBI.

Granted,  Clinton wouldn’t have taken such a severe political beating last fall if Comey hadn’t had such a massive and very public brain fart. I am loath to diverge with my girl Hill, but there was another less obvious but more destructive factor at work than mental flatulence.

The true culprit — the reason Donald Trump is now the president of the United States — is misogyny.

We have made great strides toward doing away with sexism; I readily and joyfully admit that. Misogyny, on the other hand, endures. Pernicious, and systemic, it was without a doubt Clinton’s downfall. Misogyny inheres in our society because, as Clinton so accurately put it, an endemic, generalized hatred of women has been passed from generation to generation.

Freedom from misogyny would require an entire generation to grow up never witnessing an act of sexism — for sexism, essentially, to cease to exist anywhere in the world. Thereupon, that generation would then need to raise their children in a world in which female-identified people never experience discrimination. Only by forming a united front in the name of love and equity can we hope ever to see a woman in the Oval Office.

Now, it certainly didn’t help that the Electoral College is still a thing. But it is no coincidence that the person who should have succeeded President Barack Obama was passed over in favor of one accused multiple times of sexual assault, whose behavior and language (“Grab ’em by the pussy!”) don’t exactly make him look innocent. Too much of the U.S. population operates under the notion that a powerful man is forgivable — nay, even trustworthy — while a powerful woman needs to be punished. 

I will never get over the events of Nov. 8, 2016. I will never forget the feeling in the pit of my stomach when the election swung in Trump’s favor. And I will always resent the fact that someone of the female gender probably won’t be elected to the highest office in the land during my mom’s lifetime.

But we can’t allow what happened to defeat us. It’s time to start the generations-long work of eliminating misogyny — completely, and forever.


*Clinton begins to address sexism and misogyny at about 07:44. However, you definitely should watch this video in its entirety, because it starts with Rachel Maddow showing Hillary Clinton a funny panda video. Seriously. The greatest moment in television history? I think YES.