Hillary's Laughable Gender Wars

Hillary's Laughable Gender Wars
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This week, White House aspirant Hillary Clinton released a new campaign ad featuring a bevy of cute little girls. The title of the ad refers to the presidency, and it was supposed to come across as innocent and endearing. Alas, like many elements of the Clinton campaign, it was actually vaguely alarming, off-putting, and completely out of touch with approximately half of the country. Get ready, for here it is: “44 Boys Is Too Many.”

Yikes, Hillary. Is that a threat? It kind of sounds like a threat. Run, boys of America, run! Hide in some storm cellar, deep in flyover country, where they’ll never find you—and if you’re planning on running for president, Godspeed, you hapless soul. Those girls in the video might not be as nice as they look.

Indeed, when you take a closer look at Hillary’s painful campaign ad, they’re not. “Girls are smarter than boys,” reads one letter featured in the video, right after a helpful suggestion that the United States should limit school to two days a week. “Girls rule,” the note adds, and “boys drool.”

One girl calls for Hillary to bring about world peace, as only a woman can; another worries that it might be hard for Hillary to be both the president and a grandmother, which is reasonable, given the significant memory lapses detailed in the latest batch of released Clinton e-mails. My favorite moment comes near the end, where an adorable hair-twirling sprite delivers a loopy, stream-of-consciousness wish list, suggesting that after Hillary, “all the girls after that” should be president. Why not?

The slightly sinister “44 boys is too many” line—clearly cooked up by either a clueless campaign staffer or a crazed Hillary volunteer who sleeps in a giant pile of free NARAL tote bags, both of them unable to recall that poor unappreciated Grover Cleveland was president number 22 and 24—was transcribed by what appears to be a 5-year-old. It is written in two different shades of pink marker, with the script wildly slanting across the page. As a special touch, the final letters of the word “too” form the eyes of a forced smiley face that looks like it would punch you, hard, if it only had arms and were true to its inner convictions.

I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired. Boys: Who needs ’em? It brings me back to my fifth grade playground days, when I barely made the cut into the exclusive Unicorn Club, a short-lived clique of girls based at my grade school in western Michigan. According to its illustrious founding charter, the Unicorn Club had zero purpose for its members except to gallop around in circles, to occasionally neigh and toss one’s hair, and to dutifully exclude all the other fifth-graders who were not members of the Unicorn Club.

In short, it was similar to Hillary Clinton’s campaign video, except it was (a) more equitable, (b) less juvenile and (c) not part of an actual presidential campaign in the most powerful country on earth.

Hillary’s gender ethics aren’t just hostile and exclusionary. They’re also amusingly out of date. “You inspire me to so that I can be who I want to be when I grow up,” declares one girl, accompanied by soaring music that sounds like Adele got drafted into a Soviet prison march. Well, jeez. When it comes to craftily capitalizing on a built-in family political dynasty, Cleopatra has Hillary beat by a couple thousand years. Or, if you’re starting from scratch, how about Margaret Thatcher, who pulled herself into a successful prime minister gig more than 30 years ago, and who is probably scowling somewhere at the sprawling tragicomedy that is modern feminism?

“In Margaret Thatcher’s view,” according to her biographer Allan Mayer, “her sex is an irrelevancy, and she is annoyed by people who make too much of a fuss over it.”

Thatcher’s vision was exactly what feminism should be: a view of people as people, with equal opportunities to succeed.

Today, unfortunately, we confuse equal opportunities with equal outcomes—and as a result, we obsess over gender more than ever. In November, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a splash by appointing a “gender-equal” cabinet, composed of 15 men and 15 women. He did so, he told the press, not because of qualifications and not because it was all some amazing, perfectly proportional gender coincidence, but “because it’s 2015.”

Indeed it is, to many sane people’s chagrin, and 2015 has offered rough proverbial sledding in many areas. In terms of the gender circus, it has devolved into a three-ring, five-alarm tire fire with the lions gorging on the fried hot dog truck, the seals barking over the intercom, and the monkeys tangling up the trapeze.

On one hand, we’re told that gender is meaningless and that people can be whatever gender they believe themselves to be. On the other hand, weirdly, we’re told it’s hugely important and progressive to obsessively check gender boxes when appointing cabinet members, or, say, the next president of the United States. It all leads to the most laughable of conclusions: We need to focus like a laser on the gender of our next leader to prove that we are enlightened enough to look beyond gender—all while obsessing about gender, nonstop, in all ways, all the time.

Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin,Texas. Her work can be found at  http://www.heatherwilhelm.com/ and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.

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