Metro Weekly

Columnist: Hillary Clinton “lesbian” rumors trying to disparage her character

Amanda Marcotte says the oft-repeated right-wing trope is an attempt to push back against women's empowerment

Hillary Clinton (Photo: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons).

Hillary Clinton (Photo: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons).

“The rumors that Clinton is a lesbian have been around since she first peeked her head out in public, and the reason isn’t exactly obscure.”

Salon columnist Amanda Marcotte, in a post explaining the genesis of, and ulterior motive behind, the rumors that Hillary Clinton is a secret lesbian. “That’s just what misogynist asshats say about women who dare consider themselves the equals of men,” she continued. “The rumor isn’t just misogynist either but also homophobic, in that it assumes ‘lesbian’ is an insult.”

The rumors, which have been spread primarily via conservative media, have re-emerged following longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s announcement that she is separating from her husband, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, over his “sexting” problems.

According to the rumors, not only is Clinton a lesbian, but she’s been having a long-term affair with Abedin.

Marcotte reports that Matt Drudge, the gay man behind the right-wing online blog Drudge Report, “chose to wink at the rumors” of Clinton and Abdein’s involvement, using a “Weiner” pun in a headline to imply that Abedin is now revoking her heterosexuality because of her marital troubles.

But she also notes, “human sexuality doesn’t work this way. If men being jerks was enough to turn women gay, there would be no straight women left.” Marcotte then returns to her central thesis.

“At their core, the lesbian rumors were about delegitimizing the Clinton marriage,” she writes. “From the day the Clintons set foot on the national stage, conservatives set out to portray Hillary Clinton as something other than a genuine wife to Bill Clinton because in their minds real wives are subservient to their husbands and the patriarchal order in general.”

Marcotte details how conservatives used the rumors as a way to undermine the Clinton campaign and portray Hillary Clinton — and by extension, her husband — as a “radical” when it came to issues surrounding traditional gender roles, the involvement of women in the workplace, and their support for feminism.

From Pat Buchanan’s “culture war” convention speech in 1992 to the “cookie controversy” stemming from comments that Hillary Clinton made regarding her decision to pursue a career outside of the home, Marcotte narrates how the right-wing — often emboldened and abetted by the mainstream media — has attempted to tear down Hillary Clinton’s character since she first became a household name.

“It was in this context that the ‘Hillary is a lesbian’ rumors flourished, as a quick shorthand for the conservative assumption that heterosexuality for women is inherently a submissive pose,” writes Marcotte. “But these rumors that Clinton is a lesbian were never really about homosexuality — not really. They were always a way for sexists to chew over their fears of female empowerment and of having to treat women like equals, instead of cookie-baking appendages for men.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com