You know the acronym DWB: Driving While Black. It’s code for how African-Americans are pulled over by police more often than whites for minor infractions — driving slightly over the speed limit, busted taillight — or sometimes for no reason at all. Yesterday, as I scrolled through a batch of anti-Hillary comments on Facebook, a similar acronym came to mind. LWF: Leading While Female.
Hillary Clinton (we are told) has a trust issue. There are (we hear) many voters who can’t stomach Donald Trump but who also aren’t comfortable with Hillary Clinton because (they argue) she’s untrustworthy. After all (they say), look at how she’s behaved: the scheming, the favors, the hostility toward adversaries, the coziness with bankers. Look, says Gen. Colin Powell in a leaked email, at her “unbridled ambition.” Thanks, Gen. Powell, for making the double standard so obvious.
See, Hillary has kicked butt her entire life. Whatever you think of her policies or party, you cannot deny that she is an incredibly successful political leader. Her peers are almost entirely men. And the men are judged very differently.
Here are four of Hillary’s LWF infractions. In my view, she’s guilty as charged. But the guys are just as guilty, and they aren’t getting pulled over; instead, the crowd is applauding as they speed on by.
Playing close to the line. When a successful woman bends the rules or beats the rap, she’s a liar and cheater who belongs behind bars. A Republican friend of mine said about Hillary, “She did what she did” — by which he meant he wasn’t going to excuse her for “what she did” even if decades of investigations have turned up nothing indictable. When a successful man walks that line, however, he’s a bold wheeler-dealer who knows how to work the system. “Wow, he pushes the envelope,” we say.
Trading in secrets. A woman who shares confidential information is either Lucrezia Borgia or a blabbermouth. If it’s intentional, she’s catty, conniving, possibly a traitor. If it’s unintentional, she’s shockingly careless. But a male secrets-trader knows information is power. He’s a smart networker, a valuable mentor who tells you the lay of the land. And if the spills are egregious, on a David Petraeus level, well, the poor guy was led astray by (you guessed it) a conniving woman. Tsk tsk.
Favoring allies and squashing adversaries. A woman who grants access and favors to her supporters is corrupt. That’s pay for play. Whoredom. As for a female chief who punishes disloyalty or eliminates her enemies — that’s just plain evil. The man who does all of the above? He’s a savvy player, a relationship-builder who isn’t afraid to mix it up.
Aiming for high position. A woman who works hard for professional success is a greedy, power-hungry climber. How can we trust her when she so clearly wants that top spot? But a man who rises to the top is talented, driven, a superstar with big dreams and goals. Colin Powell surely didn’t stumble, whoopsy daisy, into his positions as four-star general, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state. Yet no one has ever accused him of “unbridled ambition.”
If you truly hate Clinton’s policies, go ahead and vote for someone else. But if you’re willing to risk a President Donald Trump simply because a brilliant woman has outplayed a lot of men at their own game, think carefully about that double standard.
Me, I’ll be voting for the notorious HRC and her wheeling-dealing, take-no-prisoners, no-you-smile blonde ambition. She’s guilty as charged — of LWF.
Jocelyn Davis is a writer and leadership consultant based in Santa Fe.