Republican ideological absolutism, nourished by masculine insecurity, created an amalgam corrosive to pragmatic politics. For Hillary Clinton, it’s meant being demonized for traits that have little to do with her character. Not only by right-wing politicians, who found the Hillary-with-horns specter a convenient recruitment tool, but by the culture at large. Even the supposedly liberal mainstream media still seek out any bit of evidence that can be chiseled to fit that prefab 1990s narrative — and if she denies the caricature, she’s called a liar. Her famous “hiddenness” is, at heart, her refusal to cop to the crime of purloined male authority. A Spy magazine story in 1995 made that theft succinct: a cover image of a grinning Hillary, her skirt billowing up as in the old Marilyn Monroe photo, to reveal male briefs bulging with a penis. Across her legs ran the headline: “Hillary’s Big Secret.”
The G.O.P.’s gender grudge feeds on its own defeat. As the culture moves further away from the conservative ideal — as women gain freedoms, minorities assert rights, same-sex marriage proves commonplace — the monster’s howls grow louder. But the howls say nothing new. This election is the decisive battle in a Thirty Years’ War.
Susan Faludi, “How Hillary Clinton Met Satan”, The New York Times (30 October 2016), SR5.