There is a precedent set for any political commentator: discuss Hillary Clinton and be perceived as a feminist who is unwilling to criticise. Hillary Clinton deserves criticism for many of her actions. But she also deserves to be heard, a right not given to her following the release of her memoir.
It isn’t unusual for a presidential candidate to release a book following an election. Following his defeat against Barack Obama, John McCain released a book, titled “Worth the Fighting For”, detailing his failed presidential campaign. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, released the book “Our Revolution” in 2016, detailing his perception of the election and his reforms had he been elected. Therefore, Hillary Clinton releasing a memoir post-election is not an unusual move.“What Happens” aims to justify Clinton’s failure in the 2016 presidential election.
However, the backlash Hillary Clinton’s memoir has received is unprecedented and the response one of ridicule. It’s reception reflects a political climate where people feel they have full reign to speak freely, even if they are purposely hurtful. It reflects a political climate in which misogyny is still ingrained. An environment that if a woman is given an important job and fails, she is not given the same platform as a man to justify her actions.
Following the release of her memoir, the press were quick to urge Clinton to stay out of public life including talk show host Bill Maher. On the day of the release hundreds of one-star reviews were posted on Amazon slating the book. Hillary Clinton is slandered for not claiming sole responsibility for the defeat, and her choice to explore other reasons that impacted the election is seen as shifting the blame.
Clinton is undeniably a polarizing figure. However, the book gives an insight into an election that changed the nature of politics. It emphasizes Russian interference and a media so fascinated by the political circus that the formal part of the election took a back seat. It goes into great depths on being a woman in politics and balancing motherhood with work, a side of politics rarely seen.
To then tell Clinton that she has nothing worthy to say undermines the potential to learn from her experiences. Criticism should be expected from the press, but complete dismissal of her work represents something far larger. To praise a woman for what she achieved should not be seen as a role just for “feminists.” Her campaign was not perfect, but she won the popular vote. For that reason alone, her memoir deserves the respect guaranteed to her male counterparts.