On Thursday, The Los Angeles Times carried a brilliant analysis of the Trump/Clinton “debates” by Melissa Batchelor Warnke
The entire analysis should be read here: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-clinton-trump-third-debate-shade-20161020-snap-story.html
But here is the section at the end of her piece that struck me most forcefully:
When Clinton spoke about the sexual assault allegations against Trump, she said: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere that doesn’t know what that feels like.”
Cynics will say that was a political calculation to connect with undecided women, and it may well have been. But if it’s easy to fake compassion, it’s harder to fake spitting-mad, even if the words are scripted. As women, we’re taught that it’s proper to absorb slights without returning them. For many of us, anger comes out after we’ve burnt through everything else.
Later in the debate, Trump talked over her answer on Social Security, remarking “such a nasty woman.” The Internet exploded. An hour later, his comment had been commercialized, in the form of T-shirts, pins, hats and coffee mugs touting the consumer’s “nasty woman”-ness.
Having a man meet the force of her long-suppressed and hard-earned righteous anger with dismissive condescension? Her calculation was correct. There was not a woman anywhere who didn’t know what that felt like.
The night was peppered with zingers. Her response to Trump’s unprecedented refusal to state that he’d accept the election results? Calm, but pointed: “Let me respond to that because that’s horrifying.” Her response to Trump’s comments about Putin? Crisp, and biting: Putin would “rather have a puppet as the president of the United States.”
And then there was this machine-gun burst of damning comparisons:
“Back in the 1970s, I worked for the Children’s Defense Fund. And I was taking on discrimination against African American kids in schools. He was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings.
“In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was borrowing $14 million from his father to start his businesses.
“In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights. He insulted a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, called her an eating machine.
“And on the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”
In the first debate, Clinton proved she could be as gentle a woman as the country’s men wanted; in the second debate, she’d proved she could be as measured a leader as the country’s people needed; and in the third, she proved she could be as authentically annoyed as she deserved.
In three acts, Clinton demonstrated the unlearning process that guides many American women’s experiences: performing for men, leading for others, living true-to-self.
We’ve never witnessed such a compressed, gendered metamorphosis in American political life. For many women, Clinton’s movement toward her own power is a historical moment. We’ll remember where we were when fire took our shape.
I love this idea that what you see in the three “debates” is a woman moving from gentle to measured to annoyed. The suggestion that Hillary has at last entered into that place of “living true-to-self” is deeply appealing to me and augurs well for the future of the United States of America and the world with Hillary at the helm in the White House.