Who can stand the sexist attacks on Hillary’s speaking fees?
The questions aim to make voters aware that, while not in office, Hillary accepted huge fees for speaking to audiences that included big banks. Like many effective campaign tactics, however, questioning the legitimacy of her fees also serves other, less-than-creditable ends. The questions implicitly cast aspersions on Hillary Clinton’s essential worth, on her value as a veteran stateswoman, and on the integrity of the speaking engagements themselves. The issue is a classic ‘dog-whistle’ tuned to the frequency of the envious and chauvinistic.
The underlying assumption? Something must be wrong because Hillary couldn’t possibly be worth that kind of money. Thank god Hillary is running for office! She’s giving us an opportunity to express our resentment toward women who defy social norms and out-perform men. How dare she make that kind of money in one day?
What’s clear from Secretary Clinton’s responses is that she doesn’t feel guilty. She doesn’t feel implicated in the banks’ decision to pay up to hear what’s in her heart and brain. Thank goodness she isn’t apologizing for the very legitimate demand within the business community to learn from one of the nation’s most experienced leaders.
But Hillary, for the sake of all women struggling against their own glass ceilings, you must go a step further. You must assert that your experience and perspective on American politics are unique, and that, in the eyes of the market, you deserve your fees.
You might lose the anti-capitalist vote, but you’d win the gratitude of millions of American women who are tired of being treated as though they can’t possibly be worth as much as a man.