Despite the recent denouement of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, a device called the “Hillary Nutcracker” has retained its popularity on Amazon.com, where the item has not one, not two, but three different distributors. It is a plastic Hillary Clinton action figure that cracks open walnuts when they are placed between her legs. Clinton appears in a demure navy blue pantsuit, complete with a turquoise blouse and pearls.
One distributor will even send you the nut-cracking senator in her very own action figure box with an inspiring stars and stripes background. The product description calls the nutcracker “the most innovative product of the year,” and the logo across the top of the box reads, “IS AMERICA READY FOR THIS NUTCRACKER?”
The reviews on Amazon.com suggest that America is, in fact, ready. Based on 58 customer reports, the nutcracker has averaged four out of five stars. Users posting comments entitled “Hilar(y)ious product! A real crack-up!” and “I’m nuts about it!” describe the nutcracker as a “political collectible” and a “great gag gift for anyone with a sense of humor.” One poster, who described him or herself as “a huge supporter of the Clintons,” expressed the desire to buy one as soon as it came down from the $19 price. Another noted that the item would be “the hit of Hillary’s victory party,” stating that “all publicity is good publicity.”
The dissenters are a predominantly female minority, but a vocal one. One woman described the nutcracker as “disgusting and hateful,” saying “I am deeply disappointed that Amazon carries it. Misogynistic filth.” Another harshly exhorts “teenage Obamacans” to remember that “this is a lady almost the same age as your grandmother…who pushed to pass the UHC [Universal Health Care] for poor children in 1997.”
As an under thirty-year-old female who, like my mother, supported Clinton until her concession last week, I find it hard to get upset by the Hillary Clinton nutcracker. It is lacking in taste, to be sure. But its misogyny never rises above the quality of a cliché. It is no more offensive than any number of shirts I would gleefully wear that depict our current president as a chimp.
Hillary may be the face of twenty-first century feminism, but she was first and foremost a presidential candidate, and thus subjected to the same potential for mockery as any other her Democrat and Republican competitors. Portraying her as a “nutcracker,” a “ball-buster,” or—as all these terms euphemistically imply—a “bitch” is ugly stuff, but for my under-thirty generation, it is an insult without power.
Our thinking on Hillary, power, and gender was summed up earlier this year in the words of Saturday Night Live‘s Tina Fey, who on February 23rd gave the following impassioned (if humorous) endorsement of Clinton: “[P]eople say that Hillary is a bitch. Let me say something about that: Yeah, she is. And so am I… Know what? Bitches get stuff done!”
Ilana Garon is currently working on a book about her experiences as a teacher in the New York City public schools. Photo: Hillary Clinton campaigning in Minnesota (Caleb Williams / Creative Commons).