We should read 'What Happened' before we tell her what happened

Hillary Clinton waves to the audience at the Warner Theatre in Washington, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, for book tour event for her new book "What Happened" hosted by the Politics and Prose Bookstore. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Hillary Clinton waves to the audience at the Warner Theatre in Washington, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, for book tour event for her new book "What Happened" hosted by the Politics and Prose Bookstore. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Months after a tragic loss in the election, Hillary Clinton released a book from her perspective on the campaign trail titled “What Happened.” Many of the initial reactions from critics were not over the content, but simply consisted of outrage that she had written a book in the first place. People claimed that the world was “sick of hearing from her,” while others asked “is this book necessary?” Even Senator Bernie Sanders spoke against it saying, “I think it’s a little silly to keep talking about 2016.” Basically, before even cracking open Hillary’s book, people complain that she is opening up. People want her book swept under the rug, much like the controversial election that left an ugly scar on our divided America.

Books reflecting on presidential campaigns have been published before by many other politicians including Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford. Books like these are not uncommon, so why is Hillary being attacked for hers? Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions, especially if they know what they are talking about and, as the candidate that won the popular vote by millions, Hillary knows what she is talking about. Just because she is a woman, people have accused her of ‘whining’ about what happened, and say she should “shut up and go home.” People want her to fade into the background and get over her loss because they are so eager to forget about the election, but how are we supposed to learn from it if we ignore it?

Many people are outraged because they believe her book is listing excuses why she lost instead of accepting any part of the blame. However, if you actually read the book you will find that she stresses that loss is her own fault, “I go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made. I take responsibility for all of them. You can blame the data, blame the message, blame anything you want—but I was the candidate. It was my campaign. Those were my decisions.” The book is not filled with excuses; it is a documentation of her experiences. You cannot say all the points she makes within the books are wrong, because they are her feelings and insights that no one can invalidate because no one has been in her position before. As the first major party female presidential candidate, this book comes from a unique and extremely important perspective that is crucial to hear.

Through recounting her experiences, Hillary shows major issues with gender bias within our society. From simply watching the debates, the sexist way that she was being treated was evident. Hillary could not have an argument the way a male candidate could, and as soon as she made a tough blow she was seen as a “nasty woman.” Through her book she reveals more of the small, yet infuriating ways sexism impacted her campaign. She recounts how she had to consult a linguistic specialist because she was told so many times that her voice was annoying. She was advised to keep her voice “soft and low” even when the crowd was shouting because women could not get away with yelling. Her experiences document an America that is afraid of loud and powerful women, a problem that we cannot overlook any longer.    

I am not trying to say Hillary was the perfect candidate and that her book is flawless; she does have her faults and she has made mistakes, a sentiment that she has reiterated many times. I only suggest that this book documents a unique perspective that highlights very pressing problems with the way America views women in places of power. This book shows it is time we address our own faults and biases, and a good first step would be to listen to Hillary instead of ignoring her and telling her to stay quiet. As Margaret Atwood would say, “nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” Hillary, you cannot let your voice be quelled, especially when yours is such an important story to hear.


Samantha Pierce is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at samantha.pierce@uconn.edu.