Ella Whelan

If Hillary Clinton keeps playing the gender card, others will too

If Hillary Clinton keeps playing the gender card, others will too
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The American presidential race seemed more like a playground fight than a clash of politics this week as would-be Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton drew her claws on her Republican counterpart Donald Trump.

The rumpus was sparked by Trump's comments on Megyn Kelly’s tough approach towards him during a recent Republican Party debate. ‘You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,' he said. The possibility that Trump was blaming Kelly’s harsh tone on her menstrual cycle predictably sent social media into meltdown. Never too far from a scandal, Clinton seized her chance. In a public statement she described Trump’s comments as ‘outrageous’.

However, what is really outrageous are Clinton’s double standards here. She has based her campaign on the fact that women are different. She kicked it off, remember, by presenting herself as a girl-friendly, fluffy candidate in which women were singled out as in need of special attention. Emphasising her biology with her #GrandmothersKnowBest slogan, she said she would be the best person to fight for women’s rights because she was female. So for Clinton to be outraged by Trump’s possible suggestion that a woman’s biology affects what she thinks goes against the basis of her campaign - that women do think and act differently to men.

After all, is there not some similarity between Clinton claiming that women should allow their genitalia to control their vote and Trump suggesting that periods define a woman’s mood? If that is even what Trump meant; the speed with which off-hand comments are magnified as defining political moments is quite amazing. Trump continues to deny that his remark had anything to do with Kelly’s hormones, but given his penchant for offence-giving, it is hard to believe he didn’t know how his comments would be taken. Nevertheless, what is wrong with a bit of mud slinging? Couldn’t Kelly have come back with a quip about Trump’s brain sweating under all that combover?

Or better still, politicians should stop vying for women’s attention through crass identity politics. In her statement on Trump’s comments, Clinton mourned the potential effect the Republican party might have on American women if it gets into power. True, Trump and the gang are largely pro-life, but it was only recently that Clinton came out in defence of abortion. And even then, by opposing a 20-week limit on abortion in the name of women who were raped rather than women who just don’t want to give birth, Clinton still only supports a woman’s right to choose up to a certain point and under certain conditions. Hardly a triumph for women’s liberation. At every stage, Clinton’s campaign has used the most sinister form of identity-obsessed politics to celebrate her womanhood as a feat, and the reason why she's better on so-called women's issues than her male competitors. But women's issues, such as reproductive rights and childcare, should be universal issues. Clinton’s attempt to frame them as girls-only is a step backwards.

So what if Trump thinks women get ratty around their time of the month? What is far more insulting is the idea that women should rally behind an old crocodile like Clinton just because we all wear bras. Clinton’s campaign was disingenuous from the start. During her previous attempt to be president in 2008, she made a concerted effort not to be defined by her gender. Oh, how the times change. And as the political fashion sways towards wearing your genetic make-up as a badge of honour, Clinton seems to have followed suit. Trump may be a fool, and he may be wrong on a lot of things, but Clinton’s ability to chop and change her beliefs to suit the current political climate is far more unattractive than an old fart with bad hair.