Nine Things I Learnt From Hillary Clinton
WORDS BY MIA CASTAGNONE
I don’t know about you, but when my dad texted me while during a Uni lecture saying, “Want to go see Hillary Clinton? She’s coming to Sydney” my immediate response was, ‘Ah, YES?!’ Now, I don’t know a whole lot about American politics, in fact, politics in general is not a topic I ever truly engage with, but when I hear that one of the most influential female leaders of our generation is coming to Sydney for a talk that was something I knew I could not miss out on.
Here are the top 9 things I learnt from Hillary Clinton:
1. More women in politics, please
For women, being in parliament in any country is no easy task. Clinton expressed that for sexism to leave politics more women are needed in government, especially in leading positions. She made an interesting comment, “the more successful a woman becomes, the less people like her, yet with men the more successful they become the more popular they are…”
The research speaks for itself, with the Inter-Parliamentary Union listing 193 country’s in descending order, according to the percentage of women in their lower or single house. As of 2017 it showed that Australia, the U.K. and U.S. were ranked 50, 47 and 104 respectively with percentages in the Lower House respectively, 28.7%, 30.0% and 19.1%. Rwanda, Bolivia and Cuba, the top 3 nations, alternatively showed 61.3%, 53.1% and 48.9% (1). A study on U.S. which took place in 2012 found women are less competitive, confident and much less likely to think they are qualified to run for office, thus the gender gap in parliament is a long way from reaching reality. (2)
2. Chardonnay, yoga, grandchildren and pets = a good life
After her loss of the presidential election, Clinton spent much of her time with her two grandchildren, her pet dogs, drinking wonderfully expensive chardonnay and doing yoga. While she acknowledges that it was the support of her family and friends that allowed her to accept defeat and move on with her life, this sounds like a great combination.
3. American Nationalism is No Joke
The glamorised slogans promoting the ‘American Dream!’ and empathetic ‘Let us share with the world America’s greatness!’ are things I thought only came up in cheesy, Hollywood movies…. yet Clinton embodied all of it.
Let me explain…
Before she entered the stage, an intro video played… we hear the soulful voice of Morgan Freeman draw us into an introduction to her early life growing up in Chicago. He tells of how her mother instilled deep values of courage and independence in her, greatly shaping the strong-willed woman we see today. We learn of her diligence to study and heart to help others. It is not hard to see the agenda being set here, but what surprised me was how obvious it was. I guess Americans are in no way subtle, are they?
Throughout the talk I was sometimes lost as to how the ‘America is great’ agenda was supposed to resonate with her Australian audience, but the crowd of mostly middle aged women did not seem to mind.
However, I did find it curious when she touched on our nations’ tight relationship and the key role Australia will play in promoting peace in the region. I wondered how many countries was she touring where she likely has said the same thing? I also wondered why she went on to comment on the growing power of China, placing an ‘us vs. them’ vibe... I mean,
China is our biggest trading partner – bit awkward hey?
4. Media, Moral Panic and Russia
Reflecting on the event where Russian agents allegedly placed defaming media material on Clinton during her presidential campaign, she explained the extent the media has a huge influence on society’s thoughts and values. She described the moral panic that occurred during the election, highlighting how fear was stricken within the community and “Americans were turned on one another”. An ongoing theme of the night became the threat of authoritarianism to democracy and the difficulty between allowing free speech and reign online and also how this can become a threat.
5. Social media is our friend!
That being said, Clinton affirms that social media is our friend! She believes that bridging connections, not placing constraints, is the way to move forward.
6. Alternative Facts
“We live in a real world. I choose to not ignore the facts.” In a clear judgement of President Trump, Clinton enforces her views that she is about facing real issues in the world such as social inequality, climate change, freedom and opportunity.
7. The Spiral of Silence
Clinton retells of a debate she did against Bernie Sanders and the commentary that occurred via Twitter that was pooled together and analysed. Research found that misogynistic terms were most frequently used toward Clinton, whereas her male opposition did not receive the same hate. She said that this is no longer ‘banter’, hate or sexism, but misogyny, which demonstrated a profound disrespect for women.
Moreover, she explained how her female supporters were severely attacked online and how one of her supporter groups went private after individual members were threatened with violence and their personal details, such as phone numbers and home addresses, were publically posted. She explains how in this sense women are “muted” on social media, leading them to disengage in online communities altogether and leaving their voices unfairly heard.
8. Hard work will make change, not twitter
Among many witty remarks regarding President Trump, Clinton sets herself apart and speaks of her determination to continue with her work in activism, women’s rights and better standards for those less fortunate.
9. We are on the right side of history
With all the uncertainty in the world right now, Clinton says she is “neither optimistic nor pessimistic but hopeful.” She concludes that we are at in pivotal moment in time and notes that greater communication between nations will lead us to a safer and more prosperous world.
Love her or not, you can’t deny that Hillary Clinton has led and continues to lead, an incredible life, “You can’t write this stuff!” she laughs. Her American, nationalist pride is real and so is her determination to promote a female forward agenda and I couldn’t help but fall for her inspiring call to “keep going… stand up” and “never back down” attitude. She is an icon of this era and symbol of strength that I believe we need to see more of.
- “Women in national parliament” http://archive.ipu.org/wmn-e/arc/classif010117.htm
- “Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics”, 2012, Jennifer L. Lawless, Richard L. Fox https://www.american.edu/spa/wpi/upload/2012-Men-Rule-Report-web.pdf