Another Hillary History Lesson

More on the topic of my previous post: lessons one might draw from Clinton’s campaign. Over at Slate’s XX Factor, Dahlia Lithwick explains to “naysayers” (people quoted in —and authors of— other recent articles and columns about lessons one might draw from Clinton’s campaign) that: “Yes, Virginia, There Will Be Another Woman Candidate in Your Lifetime.” (Calm down, ladies. Let’s not get hysterical here.)

A lesson that Lithwick is taking from Clinton’s run is that: “All across the country, in the most unlikely ways and places, Hillary Clinton kicked ass as a woman. Why take that away from her now?” — as, Lithwick writes, do people “advancing the argument that no woman will ever win the presidency without the advantages of a Hillary Clinton because only those advantages account for her success,” an argument which Lithwick says does “more to disrespect her enormous talents than all of the oily misogynists on Fox News.” (Ok, but have any of Lithwick’s “naysayers” truly said that “only those advantages” account for Clinton’s success or just that “those advantages” may have been…advantageous?)

To the question posed by Kate Zernike in the New York Times recently of “why would any woman run” having seen “the Fatal Attraction comparisons and locker-room chortling on television panels” during this campaign, Lithwick responds:

Women will put themselves through this because most of us will have been more inspired by the Clinton run than scared off by it. They’ll put themselves through it because—for the first time in history—they’ll know what it looks like when a woman almost scores the presidency, and it looks amazing. And some of them will also put themselves through it because having been well and truly sickened by the “iron my shirts” moments, they’ll do what women did in 1992 after watching Anita Hill endure outrageous nuts-and-sluts treatment at the hands of an all-male Senate judiciary committee. They’ll swarm government.

If Hillary Clinton has taught the women of America anything this year, it’s never to say never. Which is why it would be lamentable if the only lesson we take from her candidacy were that nothing like it will ever happen again.

I’m not sure “nothing like it will ever happen again” is a lesson (let alone “the only” lesson) anyone is actually taking from Clinton’s candidacy but if so, Lithwick’s passionate pep-talk may just teach them a new one.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.