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Madame Secretary if you please. And if you don’t

Posted in Life & Love

A few years ago, when I was still working as a chef in a restaurant, I raised a particular work concern to the front of the house manager. His response was: “Don’t worry your pretty little head”.

I was stunned. First of all, I was a good fifteen years older than him. Secondly, I outranked him within a system where rank is significant. Thirdly, no matter my age or my position, his response was downright inappropriate. After the few seconds I needed to pick up my jaw, I answered back. He stammered. Luckily, he didn’t last long.

This incident, somehow etched in my memory, but that I am sure he would be hard pressed to remember if I ever bumped into him and reminded him, came back to my mind while I was driving along, listening to a quiz show on the radio. The listener who had called in, answering a question related to a new book by a politician, answered: “Hillary”. Just Hillary.

Maybe it’s a term of endearment to call a public figure by his or her first name only. Or a measure of one’s fame. But this particular Hillary happens to have been an accomplished attorney, a First Lady of Arkansas, a First Lady of the United States, a Senator and a Presidential candidate – amongst other things.

The inept and incompetent being we call our President gets afforded the courtesy of his last name. And so did a black man so many hated but nobody called just Barack – it was always Obama.

It’s a subtle and, on the surface, meaningless double standard but it’s in the subtle that roots grow. After all is said and done – and I certainly wouldn’t want to rehash it here nor examine the more complicated motives  – the reason why Mrs. Clinton couldn’t ascend to the Presidency boils down to this familiarity: America could accept a reality tv star with orange hair and orange skin formerly called The Donald over an accomplished Hillary. Being an incompetent man was still better than being a woman.

For a long time I pointed to the mistakes the Clinton campaign made, the antipathy she had – rightly or wrongly – earned over her long time in the spotlight, the anger of a certain segment of the population. But, let’s face it, for too many her sex was an impediment.

In a recent interview, Mrs. Clinton said:

“The idea that women have to fit certain stereotypes; that’s a weight around the ankle of every ambitious woman I’ve ever met. You should be able to work hard and succeed – not because you’re perfect, but because you are good enough.”

Now that Secretary Clinton is on a cathartic book tour, she is in the news again. Haters will hate her, supporters will buy her book and nothing much will change. Too late for that and we all need to learn to live with it. What we cannot learn to live with is robbing an accomplished person, regardless of whether or not she is in our camp, of the proper respect she is owed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. It truly is fascinating that HRC, of all people, has been held to a much more stringent double standard than the Buffoon in Chief. I fear for our country not completely because this abhorrent ignorant racist occupies the most powerful position in the world but that so many people (and in particular, evangelicals) are so supportive of him. Given the current crop of some of the brightest and accomplished women in politics, I continue to hope their actions will be more positively received in the near future (your state’s junior senator to name just one). The idea of ‘four more years’ is completely beyond my comprehension. After this morning’s UN address, I’ll be lucky to make it through his first year at this rate. 😳

    September 19, 2017
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    • Ellie
      Ellie

      I’m so sorry to read this – and I sincerely place my hopes in that sometimes a bad situation can turn into an opportunity.
      After the results on election night, a friend of mine decided there was nothing for it but to leave the country, and sure enough she’s made moves and will be leaving the US at the end of the month to ride the storm elsewhere. As it happens she has the opportunity to do something courageous and worthwhile with her time, which says so much about her, but I still find the whole thing too sad for words.
      SInce democracy means a strong opposition is required to maintain a good balance – let’s place our bets on that “current crop…of accomplished women in politics” you mention – and all those other US citizens who continue to respectfully promote their country around the world.

      September 20, 2017
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      • After election night, I only wished I had someplace else to go to weather this horrific storm out yet hope the country we thought we know will somehow manage to survive and thrive again. All the best to your friend as she embarks on her new opportunity.

        September 20, 2017
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    • I can’t even go into that horrific UN speech. Anyway, busy building an underground shelter….

      September 20, 2017
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      • My greatest fear is being realized…the irreparable damage to the institution of the presidency. It may never recover in my lifetime and will make it extraordinarily difficult for subsequent occupants of the White House regardless of who it is.

        September 20, 2017
        |Reply
  2. silvia
    silvia

    Once I was addressed with similar words in a professional environment. The expression was poverina which I’m pretty sure equals yours. I’ll never forget it and from time to time it comes back to me. This post of yours is not only very appropriate but it’s necessary to remind us, women, how subtle discrimination can be and how long the road to true equality is ahead of us.

    September 19, 2017
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    • My experience is that in Italy it is even worse. As long as you are pretty, a brain often isn’t required or recognized. Long long way.

      September 19, 2017
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  3. Ellie
    Ellie

    Well written! Visiting the local market recently, to the black man who approached me for money and said ‘Is there anything worse than being a black man?’ I replied ‘Yes, being a woman!’ He smiled and I gave him some money – but what sticks in my mind is that he actually agreed with me !!!

    September 19, 2017
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    • …although, if a recent immigrant, I am not so sure…

      September 19, 2017
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      • Ellie
        Ellie

        I would have thought that too, but he wasn’t – we had a long conversation and he told me a bit about his life. There’s also a funny ending – when our conversation ended, we said goodbye and off he went, at which point the Chinese stall holder nearby said “Doesn’t anybody work around here !!”

        September 20, 2017
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  4. Thank you!

    Sean Spicer can go to the EMMYs and yuck it up like he didn’t serve as a lying mouthpiece for 45 but HRC is supposed to be quiet and disappear?

    September 19, 2017
    |Reply
    • Well said. I have to wipe disgust off of me every single day.

      September 19, 2017
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