Benghazi, Mansplaining and the Republican Party: A Triumph for Hillary

Nora Turriago ’16
Opinions Editor

This past week was intense for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as she faced hours of questioning from the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The New York Times editorial board called the Republican members of Congress “spiteful” and their grilling “pointless.” However, despite the tedious questions and endless interruptions by Republicans, Clinton remained unfazed, retaining a calm composure and even signaling her annoyance with perfectly executed sighs, icy stares and ready quips, including, “I don’t care what you all say about me. It doesn’t bother me a bit.” Clinton’s successful performance had much to do with her poise in contrast to the lengthy interruptions and wagging fingers of the Republicans and the assertion by two Republican House members that the Benghazi hearings were rigged to discredit Clinton. It seems as if whatever plans the GOP had to undermine Clinton and her campaign with this hearing backfired, as many of her supporters believe she maintained a “presidential” demeanor. Indeed, her calmness under a seemingly endless 11-hour period of questioning put her composure to the test and, without a doubt, she passed.

After watching Clinton’s questioning from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the image of a dignified woman being the target of shouts, interruptions and rants from white men stuck with me. I watched as Hillary Clinton — a woman revered for her vast experience in the political arena a well-known and respected individual in her own right, now running for president — dealt with incredibly patronizing male committee members. She was scolded for not answering questions with a “yes” or “no” and continuously asked if she needed to pause and read notes from her staff members (“I can do more than one thing at a time, congressman,” Clinton retorted). With the constant interruptions and explanations by the Republican men about Clinton’s own job, I realized I was watching a theatrical display of some good old-fashioned “mansplaining.”

Mansplaining is when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending or patronizing manner. America got a big dose of this when they tuned in for the committee’s questioning of Clinton. To see as seasoned a politician as Hillary Clinton having to deal with obnoxious, sexist comments against her professional capabilities was, well, something I definitely was not expecting. If Clinton, of all people, has to deal with mansplaining, is there then no hope for the rest of us? However, her responses in the face of such an onslaught were commendable and proved to the GOP that she could rise above any attacks they may have hoped for. The barrage of interruptions, yelling and mansplaining on part of the Republican members actually worked in Clinton’s favor, as such tactics — intentional or not — enforced the negative image of the Republican party as outdated, sexist and solely out to hurt Clinton’s campaign rather than to gain closure on Benghazi. Clinton left the marathon questioning session calm, poised and steady despite the GOP’s attempted challenges.

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