The One Thing Republicans Won't Admit About Hillary Clinton's Marriage
Double standards are a pet peeve of mine. Whether it's the fro-yo guy who gives my cute younger sister more raspberry drizzle than me or the person working behind the counter at the video game store who thinks I don't know what Final Fantasy 7 is about just because I happen to have breasts, I hate when women are objectified or treated differently than men just for the sake of their gender. Because it gets under my skin so badly, I tend to notice this behavior, even when it isn't happening directly to me, but around me. And in our current presidential election, the double standard is everywhere. What's acceptable for Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton is just another glaring example of the double standard that exists between men and women.
Just over a week ago, when Donald Trump's five kids showed up to support their dad at the RNC, I wasn't really thinking about whether the dress Ivanka wore would work on my frame or how much Donald Trump, Jr. looks like the evil frat boy in every '80s movie ever made. I was thinking about the one thing we're not saying about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's marriages and what a bullsh*t double standard the Republican party has set for themselves. In many ways, the theme of the Republican attack has been to give Hillary Clinton tons of flack for sticking by her marriage when it was in trouble while simultaneously rallying behind a man who's been married not once, not twice, but three times, and acting like it's no big deal.
And to be honest, I'm absolutely sick of it.
How can a party throw their support behind someone who doesn't actually embody their ideals? And how can said party also lambast someone who, at least when it comes to staying in a marriage, has followed their twisted logic?
During one of the early GOP presidential debates, former Republican party presidential candidate Carly Fiorina had this to say of Clinton's marriage: "Unlike the another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband," as though the fact that Clinton has a busy career makes her a bad wife, while also suggesting that Fiorina has the inside track on how happy Bill and Hillary Clinton are in their marriage. A male politician would never be criticized for not spending enough time at home — he would be praised for being so committed to his job, and I doubt anyone would dare speculate on a his happiness in his own partnership the way Fiorina did Clinton's. Afterward, on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Fiorina took it up a level to full-blown Regina George, saying:
If my husband had done some of the things Bill Clinton had done, I would have left him long ago.
Besides the fact that she knows nothing about the Clintons' marriage, how does shaming someone for staying in their marriage promote Republican values exactly? Fiorina's statements are just one of many, many examples of how the Republicans have (and continue to) mock Hillary and Bill's decision to stay together, as if doing so is a source of shame for the couple. If anything, you'd think the fact that the Clintons have been married for over 40 years would be one of the few things the Republicans would actually congratulation them on. Or at least give them a polite golf clap, maybe? After all, when you go the GOP website, literally the very first item on their platform is "Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage," but please, by all means, tell me again why the Clintons staying married makes them The Worst.
Despite his own multiple marriages and highly publicized divorces, Trump hasn't hesitated to comment on the state of Clinton's marriage. But where Fiorina blames Clinton for staying married, Trump claims Hillary Clinton is the reason her husband cheated in the first place. At an Oregon campaign rally in May, he said she "enabled" her husband to cheat and that she even had the gall to be "mean" to the women her husband allegedly had relations with. According to the Washington Post, Trump said:
She's been the total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives. She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler.
So, just to be clear, in the eyes of the man who might actually become the President of the United States of America, if a woman gets cheated on, it's her own damn fault, not because of the choices her partner made, but because she somehow drove her husband to it.
Hillary Clinton has honored her commitment to her marriage with grace and strength, but her decision is treated with scorn and contempt, even though she's actually living by the Republican party's own purported principles.
Fast forward to Thursday, July 21. Donald Trump spoke at the RNC about his wives and family in a way that was supposed to make him seem down to earth and relatable, like someone who shared most Republicans' values, but he failed to mention how seldom he saw his daughter, Tiffany, from his marriage to Marla Maples, after their divorce in 1999. Maples has said she raised Tiffany as a single parent, even though Donald did pay for her schooling in Los Angeles.
The GOP loves to talk about how "values matter and character counts." In fact, it's actually part of the Republican party's official platform preamble. In her own speech at the RNC, the one that plagiarized a paragraph of Michelle Obama's 2008 DNC speech, Melania Trump mirrored these GOP ideals by addressing the nobility in seeing something through and in honoring your commitments:
From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say and keep your promise.
So even though Clinton is Brienne of Tarth when it comes to honoring her commitment, and even though, given the messaging in her speech, Trump's own wife would theoretically see value in how Clinton has handled her marriage, it's still not good enough for the Republicans. Hillary Clinton has honored her commitment to her marriage with grace and strength, but her decision is treated with scorn and contempt, even though she's actually living by the Republican party's own purported principles.
Why aren't we speculating about Trump's testosterone levels and how they could impact his use of the nuclear codes? Why aren't we still talking about his comb-over?
On the other hand, no one comments on Trump's marriages or the state of his happiness with Melania.
To be clear, does the number of times Donald Trump has been or will be married matter to me on a personal level? F*ck no. 50 Shades of Grey, get your freak on, get married, divorced, become a swinger — do whatever you want in your personal life. But what matters to me is that the man nominated for the presidency by a political party that claims to focus on "renewing American values" has consistently shamed his opponent for doing the very thing the Republican party most celebrates: digging in, doing the hard work, and staying together.
There's a double standard when it comes to how she is treated as a candidate simply because she's a woman.
So I'll ask again: How can a party throw their support behind someone who doesn't actually embody their ideals? And how can said party also lambast someone who, at least when it comes to staying in a marriage, has followed their twisted logic?
Let's just call it what it is: Trump's allowed to discard wives like he's playing gin rummy because it's still seen as "manly and powerful." In many circles, people likely still see him as a lion "taming" these stereotypically attractive women, which maybe him seem virile to his voting base, so they let it slide. As long as his wife fits their definition of beautiful and desirable, who cares if he has children from three different marriages?
For what it's worth, I'm not at all suggesting Trump should stay in a marriage that's not working for him or that his past or current choices of partners were bad ones. I've never been Mrs. Trump, so I can't speak to what goes on behind those gilded doors. And I'm not throwing shade on his wives, past or present, or his kids for that matter. You love who you love, and you don't get to choose the family you're born into. If you could, I would've picked one with an in-ground pool so that my childhood summers would have been epic.
Never have a male political figure's tone of voice, fashion choices, weight, wrinkles, or hormones become a determining factor as to whether or not they have a right to be elected. And yet, in the case of Hillary Clinton, it has.
But I am just pointing out the fundamental problem with the GOP right now: that as much as it claims to be a party that will work hard for the things they believe in, they're overlooking aspects of Trump's life for which they would or have eviscerated Hillary Clinton. According to the hate they spew at Hillary Clinton for staying married to her partner, the man they're rallying around has a pretty crappy record for follow-through in his personal relationships. It's not exactly the Republican way and yet they love him, in spite of or perhaps even because of it.
Can you imagine what would have happened four or even eight years ago if President Obama had accepted his nomination at the DNC with his five children from three different women? Pretty sure the Republicans would've had things to say about it (in fact, much like they have with Obama's birth certificate, I'm sure they'd still be saying things about it) and none of them nice.
Here's the sad reality: Men who have children by multiple women are often still seen as studs, or in this case, possibly the future Mr. President of the United States. Women who have children by multiple men are called sluts. If Clinton had five children by three different husbands, there's no way she would get the same reaction as Trump and his progeny.
All of which is further evidence of a truth that has become abundantly clear over the course of Clinton's career: There's a double standard when it comes to how she is treated as a candidate simply because she's a woman. She's been called unelectable because her voice is "shrill." It's been said she can't be president because she "dresses like a lesbian"(whatever that means). There's been speculation as to whether or not she's had a facelift, whether or not she's recently gained weight, and TIME actually said she's the perfect age to be president because the fact that she's postmenopausal means her silly lady hormones won't impact her judgment on important decisions in the Oval Office.
Never have a male political figure's tone of voice, fashion choices, weight, wrinkles, or hormones become a determining factor as to whether or not they have a right to be elected. And yet, in the case of Hillary Clinton, it has. So why aren't we speculating about Trump's testosterone levels and how they could impact his use of the nuclear codes? Why aren't we still talking about his comb-over? When we're talking about a woman, suddenly we feel free to scrutinize every minute aspect of her life in order to find flaws.
Being judged for your life choices simply because you are a woman is nothing new for most of us, especially mothers, so sadly, this is not new territory for Clinton. But you would think that here, on the biggest stage in the world, where she's earned her seat at the table time and time and time again, she could be treated with the same respect as her opponents instead of being reduced to a gender stereotype or painted as an "enabler" of her husband's sexual conduct.
Presidential elections are always tense, but this year's seems particularly polarized, and I think it's partially because of the double standards the GOP has set forth in selecting Trump as their candidate. I'm a registered Democrat, but I can still respect an viewpoint different than my own. What I can't get behind is hypocrisy, especially when it's served up with a steaming hot dish of misogyny on the side.