For arguing that gender shaped the election narrative and its result, feminists have been pooh-poohed, simultaneously told that it was Clinton, not her gender, that was the problem and that her female supporters were voting with their vaginas instead of their brains.
The latest harassment and assault allegations complicate that account and suggest that perhaps many of the high-profile media men covering Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump were the ones leading with their genitals. Mr. Trump was notoriously accused of multiple acts of sexual harassment and assault, and was caught on tape bragging about his proclivity for grabbing women. That several of the men covering the race — shaping the way American voters understood the candidates and what was at stake — were apparently behaving in similarly appalling ways off-camera calls into question not just their objectivity but also their ability to cover the story with the seriousness and urgency it demanded.
Sexual harassment at the hands of political journalists also pulls back the curtain on how too many of these men view women generally. The journalists in question are accused of a range of behaviors, some more serious than others, from drunken unsolicited kisses to, in Mr. Lauer’s case, sexual assault (in addition to exposing himself to a colleague and sending another a sex toy with a note detailing how he would like to use it on her). The theme running through nearly all of the complaints is a man in a position of power who saw the women around him not as competent colleagues or as even sovereign human beings, but as sexual objects he could either proposition to boost his ego or humiliate to feed a desire for domination.
It’s hard to look at these men’s coverage of Mrs. Clinton and not see glimmers of that same simmering disrespect and impulse to keep women in a subordinate place. When men turn some women into sexual objects, the women who are inside that box are one-dimensional, while those outside of it become disposable; the ones who refuse to be disposed of, who continue to insist on being seen and heard, are inconvenient and pitiable at best, deceitful shrews and crazy harpies at worst. That’s exactly how some commentary and news coverage treated Mrs. Clinton.
This has ripple effects for all women. Men are assumed to fail or succeed based on merit; they are mentored and supported by more senior men, and no one bats an eye. Young women, though, are often treated as suspect if more senior…