In the world of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the best sign of the patriarchy is being afraid of government forcibly sending you to die in a foreign war thousands of miles away.
Clinton recently spoke to Humans of New York, telling a tale similar to that of many career woman, describing how she overcame derision and doubt from men in order to become a successful attorney:
I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women in the room. I was feeling nervous. I was a senior in college. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do. And while we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do.’ It turned into a real ‘pile on.’ One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I’ll die.’ And they weren’t kidding around. It was intense. It got very personal … I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk.”
Read Clinton’s account out loud if you wish. Set aside whether you find the story believable or think it sounds incredibly fake, and think about its framing. In Hillary Clinton’s own telling, the villainous agent of the oppressive male patriarchy is a young man, probably no older than 22 , who is terrified he’ll be shipped off to a faraway jungle he doesn’t care about and killed in a horrifically violent manner, a fate he would share with more than 58,000 other male Americans.
Clinton is the hero of her own story, yet her concerns appear downright trite in comparison. Her struggle is to make it in the male-dominated world of corporate law and be taken seriously as a career woman. Her oppressor’s struggle is to avoid getting impaled on a shit-covered punji stick after his platoon is shot to hell during some godforsaken attempt to clear out Vietcong around Huế. Oh, and it’s probably raining at the time.
If Clinton failed the LSAT, she might have had a less prominent, prestigious or lucrative career. If she failed, she might have never attended Yale, married Bill, become First Lady, or come under phantom sniper fire in Bosnia. If her oppressor failed, he might literally have died.
It’s a fear totally alien to Clinton or millions of other upper middle class white women who have attended college since her. Despite winning the right to serve in combat, women are still exempt from selective service. In Clinton’s world, it’s men who die in war, but women who are the primary victims of it. After all, war makes men say mean things to ambitious women.