Via Deeply Trivial, BoingBoing's Caroline Seide posits the radical notion that Hillary Clinton's likability challenges may be simply because she's a complex woman:
Hillary Clinton is on one hand the most qualified human being to ever run for president of the United States, and, on the other, one of the most disliked presidential candidates of all time. In fact, Donald Trump is the only candidate who is more disliked than Clinton. And he’s not onlyovertly racist, sexist, and Islamophobic, but also unfit and unprepared for office. How can these two fundamentally dissimilar politicians possibly be considered bedfellows when it comes to popular opinion?
I would argue it’s because we don’t yet have cultural touchstones for flawed but sympathetic women. We can recognize Sanders as a fiery activist, Biden as a truth teller, and Kaine as an earnest goof, but we just don’t have an archetype—fictional or otherwise—through which to understand Clinton. As the first female nominee of a major political party, her campaign is in uncharted waters. As Clinton explains in a recent post for Humans Of New York:
It’s hard work to present yourself in the best possible way. You have to communicate in a way that people say: ‘OK, I get her.’ And that can be more difficult for a woman. Because who are your models? If you want to run for the Senate, or run for the Presidency, most of your role models are going to be men. And what works for them won’t work for you. Women are seen through a different lens.
And our entertainment doesn’t help us understand Clinton either. Our movies, books, and TV shows are filled with attractive female love interests, badass female warriors, hissable female villains, and bumbling female leads. But we don’t have very many female protagonists who are allowed to be flawed in ways that are messily realistic not just charmingly endearing. We haven’t been taught to empathize with flawed women the way we have with flawed men.
Maybe because I enjoy stories with complex women (e.g., Orphan Black, which I'd argue has dozens of interesting, complex women, all played by a woman who finally got her Emmy for playing them), I've always liked Hillary. And the subtle, pervasive sexism she faces in this election is absolutely maddening.