Clinton debunks stereotypes, again

Clinton on abortions: Trump is using scare rhetoric
Clinton on abortions: Trump is using scare rhetoric

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Clinton on abortions: Trump is using scare rhetoric 01:21

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  • Peggy Drexler: Hillary Clinton showed she is willing to put in the work and stay the course
  • Clinton has managed to debunk gender stereotypes time and time again, she says

Peggy Drexler is the author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family" and "Raising Boys Without Men." She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. She supports Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)There have been a number of what many could call "feminist moments" throughout this presidential campaign, not least of them the history-making nomination of the first female candidate to a major party. But Wednesday night, during the final debate between nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Clinton took hold of her feminism in a number of ways that made the third debate arguably the most campaign-defining.

Peggy Drexler
The most overt example, of course, was on the topic of abortion. If there was any question of Clinton's stance on the matter, that question was quickly resolved with her clear and resolute views about defending a woman's right to own one of the "most intimate, most difficult" decisions there is. She raised the significant point that late-term abortion is often performed because to do otherwise would risk the woman's life or health. This is an important point not often brought up in the frequently black or white view of abortion, and it effectively broadened the conversation beyond the boundaries of gender. Abortion rights, Clinton pointed out, aren't just about rights for women -- though her defense of women's rights was clear -- but for families faced with difficult, often heartbreaking decisions.
    Trump, meanwhile, used graphic language on the topic of abortion -- specifically talking of ripping "the baby out of the womb" in the final days of pregnancy. But if this image was designed to hammer home his own stance, his actual position remained unclear as he refused to answer the question directly when moderator Chris Wallace asked if he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
    Beyond that single topic, though, it was Clinton's performance, her confidence, and her clear preparedness through which she proved, for the third time, that she has given the job, and her campaign platforms, the considerable thought they warrant. With concrete and well-informed examples to back up her responses -- set against Trump's far fuzzier ones -- Clinton showed that she is willing to put in the work and stay the course.
    Although Trump's performance in the first 25 minutes was more evenhanded than it has been, the final hour saw him reverting to the reactive, red-faced, literal finger-pointing of earlier debates, a bear easily provoked. Meanwhile, Clinton kept her composure and her resolve. She was both presidential and very much herself. She stood her ground when Trump hurled insults and, when she could not help but offer one back, stood her ground some more when he threw in a jab: "such a nasty woman."
    For many, it was proof that could not have been more perfect if it had been scripted for a reality show: Trump, despite what he says, does not respect women more than anyone.
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    And, of course, the comment served to ignite plenty of female ire -- a second feminist moment indeed. Vox called the comment "the best thing Donald Trump has ever done for her campaign." The hashtag #nastywoman swiftly dominated Twitter ("You know what a #nastywoman is good at?" read one. "Voting.")
    Meanwhile, a Nasty Women for Hillary page launched on Facebook. There's already a "Nasty Women for Hillary" T-shirt for sale, too (with proceeds to benefit Planned Parenthood).
    If #nastywoman was a gift to Clinton, there was an element of luck involved -- an impulse reaction from her impulsive opponent. And yet she's undeniably earned the support that the backlash from his comment provided. At a time when women are still perceived to be the more reactive and emotional gender, Clinton has managed to debunk those stereotypes time and time again. And so, with his constant whining and placing blame, has Donald Trump.