The Woman as Devil: The Basis of the Attack on Hillary Clinton

By Steve Jurvetson -, CC BY 2.0,

In the second presidential debate, Donald Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as “the devil,” and it wasn’t the first time. He also called her the devil at an August campaign rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

“[Bernie Sanders’] people are angry at him, and they should be. If he would have not just done anything, gone home, go to sleep, relax, he would have been a hero. But he made a deal with the devil. She’s the devil.”

At the Republican National Convention, Ben Carson called her a “devil worshipper” on the basis of her friendship with Saul Alinsky, who once referred to the devil as “the original radical” in his book. Mr. Carson spent a good deal of time engaging in the mental acrobatics to infer that Hillary was ipso facto “one degree away from” Satan by this association. More far-right conservative supporters than I can count have talked about Hillary in these terms. Many men have run for the office of president, but few have been seriously characterized as Satan himself.

Unfortunately, women have a long history of being equated with the Evil One. Some women are witches, and all witches must therefore be evil. To qualify, a woman simply has to have the appearance of someone who is not following the male-imposed rules. They could be unmarried and unwilling to remarry. They could have a strong or independent personality. They could have strange (to the culture) ideas. They could simply have pissed off a man by spurning him. It doesn’t take much to win the disfavor of the patriarchy when you’re female.

In Papua, New Guinea, women are still being burned as witches. According to The Guardian, in one case:

Social media posts said the women were accused of “invisibly” taking the man’s heart, and then putting it back after they were tortured. In their attackers’ eyes this would also prove their guilt as sorcerers.

Taking the man’s heart…you mean, inciting lust? Sexual feeling? Torturing the men with want?

Indeed, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam hold women responsible for the feelings that they incite…in men. A “good” woman will cover herself (with burka, long sleeves, or simply “modest” clothing, however that is culturally defined) and thereby reduce the male temptation to sin. The reason we have a rape culture is exactly due to this belief:  if a woman is raped, it is her fault for inciting the man in some way to do it. In other words, “she asked for it.”

The woman as evil is deeply rooted in the Abrahamic tradition and religions, which several thousand years ago decided to divorce god’s masculine aspect from his feminine one, and consign her to oblivion. But the goddess holds the power of creation. She has Knowledge.

The books that comprise the Bible were specifically chosen by a group of men to conform to the message that they wanted to impart. The Bible itself contains two Creation stories, though the first is often overlooked:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

The preferred story for fundamentalists is the one in which the feminine is reduced to a mere rib, over which man is given dominion. Eve later reveals her true wicked nature by disobeying the jealous god and eating the fruit of the tree of Knowledge. Womankind is therefore condemned forever to labor pains, and man understands that inside, all women are evil unless they are made to behave by their diligent lords.

Many Gnostic Christians, however, had a very different understanding of the story of Eve (which no doubt inspired what would later become the Catholic Church to wipe most of them out). To the Gnostics, the serpent in the garden was sent by Sophia, a spirit of wisdom, to help man gain knowledge. Eve was not “tempted;” she was shown the light. In this version, the jealous demigod Yahweh wanted to prevent mankind from having knowledge, which does not make him the good guy. Jealous and rageful, he casts out Adam and Eve, but they have gained the knowledge that will lead them through their cycles of life until they can escape the realms of matter.

The latter story is not what shaped modern western civilization, however. No, what shaped our society is the inherent belief that women are evil and cannot be trusted. Hillary Clinton is actually brave, because she is putting herself out there to attain a position that people with this social/religious mindset can never countenance: she wants to be the supreme head of the country. Of course Hillary Clinton is not the devil, but to those who feel threatened by her, she represents the worst evil that they see in women:  she is independent, she is strong, she is smart, she does not care about their approval, and she does not need them. For many fundamentalists, these are grave sins, the kind of sins that only a woman can commit.

In this election, imagery of Hillary as the devil abound (just Google “hillary devil image”), as do shirts, signs, and other items bearing the most misogynistic slogans imaginable: “Trump that bitch,” “Hillary sucks but not like Monica,” “Hillary for Prison,” and so on. While many US elections have invoked high feeling, the only other candidate I can ever recall who suffered this kind of in-the-mud nastiness was Barack Obama. The black guy. (The correlation made by racists between black skin and evil will have to wait another day.) If two white guys are duking it out, though, it may get nasty, but not this nasty.

Hillary hatred is a real thing, and there’s nothing logical or reasonable about it. It’s visceral, emotional, and honestly, most people can’t put into words why they dislike Hillary. But I can. Basically, male and female haters alike, they’re upset that she will not keep her place, and that as good as puts a mark of the beast on her forehead. It’s 2016, so her haters talk about putting her in jail. It’s a good thing this isn’t New Guinea.

Photo of Hillary by Steve Jurvetson –, CC BY 2.0,

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