It was in college that I first learned about the “Bechdel test,” a measurement of how often two women in movies speak to each other about anything other than men or their love lives. The relevancy was clear as soon as I began to use it: the overwhelming majority of shots involving women’s conversation was either commentary about what a man was doing, or their romantic relationships. Now, reading articles like Amy Chozick’s recent piece in the New York Times, I am reminded of the Bechdel test all over again as women talk to each other about Hillary’s campaign.
90’s Scandals Threaten to Erode Hillary Clinton’s Strength With Women warns Chozick’s article, which details the concern over Hillary’s arguably sexist remarks directed toward Bill’s accusers in the past. Not surprisingly, women voters are disturbed to hear that Hillary, who claims to be fighting for American women, has used terms like “bimbo” and “floozy” to describe women like Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers. Donald Trump has capitalized on this multiple times, bringing up plenty of the past to haunt Hillary during her campaign.
Admittedly, between Benghazi and the email scandal, Hillary has enough of her own troubles to deal with during the primary elections. However, it strikes me that so much of our commentary about Hillary is really about Bill. When women talk to each other about Hillary, are we talking about her platform, her track record as a politician, or are we talking about her relationship and the way she reacted to Bill’s actions? I don’t disagree that Hillary’s comments are disturbing. But articles like Chozick’s remind me that even if a woman works her way to the top, she can still be defined by her relationship with a man. As the elections continue, perhaps we can encourage each other to think more seriously about who Hillary is as a politician, and less about who she has been as a wife.