In 2014 a sex scandal exposed unethical collusion between games media and games industry connections, along with corruption within both the media and the industry itself, including fixed competitions, censorship, and an invasion by political factions bent on forcing their outlook on the industry’s consumers.
The resulting consumer revolt, known by the name of the twitter hashtag that was its first uncensored communication hub (#Gamergate,) was for many individuals who were otherwise uninterested in politics the first glimpse of a problem that has been building in media and politics for decades.
After two years of #Gamergate, watching how Wikileaks information dumps have played out has been a real trip. There are segments of the public who were clearly not surprised, only glad to see these things exposed. Others have been shocked and appalled, with the obvious disenfranchisement of Sanders voters as one result. These voters now know that their party’s primary election process is a sham, with its candidates chosen by party elites and maneuvered into place by any means necessary. Your interest as a voter matters far less in that process than the party leaders’ goals. Republicans reacted to a similar reveal in their party legislators’ voting habits by rejecting every single party insider in the primary in favor of a candidate the elites begged them not to choose.
With the past few weeks’ wikileaks dumps we learned that what was revealed about the primary election process was only part of the story, with the newly exposed scandals including a shocking list of unethical, corrupt, and in several instances illegal behavior. The corrupt media that has been colluding with Clinton’s campaign and state department has struggled to keep this from exploding in its face. Left-leaning press has conspicuously ignored the story. Social media like twitter has tried to stifle debate by artificially manipulating hashtags and suspending or shadowbanning Clinton’s critics during the controversy. The public has still managed to discuss the information despite this. As fast as twitter artificially removes hashtags related to the controversy from its trending list, the site’s users create new ones, sharing their own observations along with links to alternative media outlets which are reporting on the story.
One of the most interesting things, however, has been the carefully timed distraction tactics. Between Republicans attacking Bill Clinton’s sexual history and Hillary’s camp seeking to deflect from her ever-growing list of scandals, the election’s final sprint began with a battle of the sex accusers.
It’s both fascinating and horrifying seeing how these accusations, coming from both sides of the political fence, can be so easily used to distract from weightier issues that even the flimsiest of them had establishment media attention in the midst of a near-blackout of the earlier Podesta email releases. Alternative media found some pretty damning holes in those accusations, yet they remained a focus of pundits and commentators. Until the Podesta releases became too big of a stain to ignore, things like Clinton’s campaign rigging took a back seat to sexual misconduct accusations, the reporting on which looks like it’s going the way of Rolling Stone’s “Jackie” story.
So what do supporters of a now openly corrupt campaign for a now openly corrupt politician fall back on when their favored candidate’s reputation is too bad to be boosted by sexual misconduct allegations against her opponent?
Imagine trying to silence discussion of a male politician’s criminal corruption by claiming his critics are only targeting him because of his sex. Such a lame attempt at deflection would never fly.
Nor would previous sex-based tactics that have been used by Hillary’s campaign and supporters. Male candidates don’t get taken seriously citing their sex as a reason to consider them qualified for office. They don’t get away with claiming to represent their entire gender. Only female candidates have the luxury of replacing real campaign efforts with such insults to the electorate’s intelligence. What an embarrassment it would be to women if that actually works!
Are so many so caught up in the “first woman president” clarion call that they will ignore everything else about this candidate?
We are talking about a secretary of state who knowingly and willfully engaged in an egregious breach of national security protocols, sold government-appointed jobs to her campaign’s and foundation’s financial benefactors, and weapons deals to governments under the same kind of financial arrangement. Hillary Clinton is so corrupt that the exposure of her and her associates’ communications revealed so many scandals there’s room for a top one hundred list.
What would it mean if she is able to use female victim narratives and the woman card to deflect her way through the election? How would a woman exempt from accountability for her actions be able to exploit the office of the President of the United States?
Would Americans’ tolerance translate into Madam President selling positions of authority to her foundation’s financial benefactors? Would she get away with selling the nation out to the foreign interests which are funding her today? Would that include those who are also funding ISIS?
How can a candidate who can’t be held accountable for playing fast and loose with national security as our Secretary of State be trusted to protect it as our Commander in Chief?
During an interview with Vogue near the beginning of this year, Hillary Clinton was asked if the U.S. is ready for a female president. It was a soft question designed to give her the opportunity to infer that anyone not voting for her must be harboring outdated sexist attitudes and beliefs, and that’s exactly what she did with it.
In doing so, she unwittingly gave the public a big hint at what she, her campaign, and her supporters’ responses to her recent scandals have made clear: The answer is no.
Allowing anyone who is above criticism to wield that amount of authority is extremely dangerous. It sets the country up to be unable to demand any degree of integrity and accountability from our leadership… to be unlikely, perhaps even unable to check that power with the decision to remove her from the position should she abuse it. We have enough of a problem with that simply due to party loyalty. We cannot afford for that to get any worse. If being a woman means being above criticism, then we are not ready for a woman to hold an office with the command and influence associated with the President of the United States. We will never be ready for a woman in the white house as long as the woman card is still treated as a get out of culpability free card.
- Back for more! Masculinities and covid-19, continued | HBR Talk 169 - February 25, 2021
- UK considers making misandry a hate crime | HBR Talk 168 - February 18, 2021
- A look at feminist research on masculinities and covid-19 | HBR Talk 167 - February 11, 2021