The first excerpt from Hillary Clinton's book What Happened, due out in September, reveals that she was thinking what a lot of us were during that second debate with Donald Trump last October when he stalked her around the stage attempting to intimidate her by invading her space. And it turns out the options that ran through her head were a lot like what goes through women's minds when they're faced with aggressive men in everyday life. Clinton wrote of the experience she endured on national television:
"Well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling, and carry on as if he weren't repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, 'Back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can't intimidate me, so back up.'"
Trump, who was under fire at the time because the infamous "I grab 'em by the pussy" tape had been revealed just days before, attempted to intimidate Clinton psychologically as well, holding a press conference prior to the debate with women who'd accused her husband, Bill Clinton (who was not his opponent), of various levels of sexual harassment. But Trump, who is tall and wields plenty of girth despite the tiny hands rumor, took his harassment to a physical level, lurking behind Clinton on the debate stage as she managed to spell out policy points despite the fact that he was making her "skin crawl," she wrote in her book, according to The Hill, citing excerpts obtained by MSNBC's Morning Joe.
In the excerpt, Clinton elucidated that she had two choices on how to handle the situation, and while she opted to remain calm, because, truth be told, if she'd reacted in any way angrily or emotionally or with full force to his bullying tactics, misogynists on the right and the left would have labeled her "unfit" for office, she wondered, like a lot of women do, if she should have stood up for herself.
"I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard," Clinton wrote. "I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV."
But more than being "better TV," Clinton's decision to not square off with her bully, illustrated the conundrum of being a woman in public and in private life.
"Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world," Clinton lamented in her book.
Still, Clinton stood strong on that debate stage despite a looming monstrosity breathing down her neck, and she laid out solid, tangible plans to improve the state of the country for all people, yet, with the help of the Electoral College, possible Russian influence, and plenty of complacent "conscience" voters, she lost to her bully.
So while Clinton ponders her decision to be the woman she was groomed to be by decades of socialization and dealing with the backlash of failing to "bake cookies" when she was first lady, it's time for the rest of the country to take a deep, hard look at the misogyny that led them to the decisions they made.