I can't link to all the stories and video processing Hillary's bad-health news with the phrase "powering through." I wish I had a video montage of the use of the word in the last day or so. It would be funny.
... and I just want to cherry-pick 3 that show the feminist-heroine move. (The 3rd one is critical of the move.)
1. In Salon, by Mary Elizabeth Williams: "Hillary powers through pneumonia — because that’s what women do/Why is it surprising that the presidential candidate kept working even while ill? Women do it every day."
We fear being viewed as weak, so we hustle through the job, hiding or downplaying our diagnoses and hoping nobody notices. Can you blame the Clinton campaign, which has been under absurd scrutiny for every head turn, every cough, for initially keeping Hillary’s illness quiet? Could the Clinton team not know that if you’re looking for an argument that someone is unfit for a job, having a treatable and temporary illness sure seems more credible than “is actually an ignorant, incompetent bigot but at least has a penis,” right?2. In Bustle, by Elizabeth Strassner: "If Hillary Clinton's Working While Sick Is A Scandal, All Women Are Guilty."
Yet Hillary’s stamina, as anyone who’s watched her over the past few decades should know, is a force to be reckoned with. And as writer Liz Meriwether pointed out Sunday, “If anything, the fact that she was campaigning with pneumonia proves that she’s tough as balls.”
I was surprised by the extent of the Clinton pneumonia coverage, in large part because I believed that other news stories this weekend were more important, but also because few people seemed to focus on the aspect of the story that was most interesting to me: namely, that Clinton powered through many campaign events despite an unpleasant illness....3. Karol Markowicz in the New York Post: "Hillary apologists’ response to collapse is demeaning to women."
Canadian politician and feminist Charlotte Whitton was famous for saying, "Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good." Clinton is simply the most recent and, perhaps, most famous of women who must actively work to rebuke the prejudice that they are somehow weaker than their male counterparts....
The days after Clinton's diagnosis when she continued to work are emblematic of a larger tradition of women feeling that they must work more than men in order to prove their equality. Trump himself has acknowledged this: He has said he hires women because their work ethic indicates that "there was something that they want to really prove." It is unsurprising, then, that many women do feel they must work overtime, either to correct the many insidious stereotypes about women in the workplace or to fit in the many household and child care tasks for which American women, compared to their husbands, are still disproportionately responsible.
[W]hen unable to deny that Hillary had been seriously sick and pretending otherwise, the narrative became how she was emblematic of women powering through and getting the job done even when risking a lung collapse. Like a bad sitcom where the wife is always right and the husband is a lovable doofus, Hillary’s surrogates insisted that soldiering on in the face of contagious infections is just something that women do.
Emily Hauser, a columnist at The Week, tweeted, “So what I’m hearing is that Clinton got really sick & soldiered on anyway, & most people didn’t even notice b/c that’s what women do.” Actor Patton Oswalt seconded that, and tweeted: “Wait, so Hillary has PNEUMONIA and she’s still campaigning as hard as she is? You realize how badass that is, right?”
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm joined in, tweeting that “’powering through’ illness is what women do: Stoically, every. single. Day.” as if Hillary was battling the sniffles....
Was it stoicism or an unstoppable hunger for power that drove Hillary to get ill enough to collapse at an event and have to be carried away? It’s not just women we’d criticize for taking risks with their own health, and the health of those around them. But Hillary always has her fallback excuse: Stop being mean to me, I’m a woman.