But as I listened Tuesday to the bellowing of those mostly male teenagers, something finally clicked in my mind: “Lock her up” isn’t really a political rallying cry. It’s an attempt to criminalize female ambition and autonomy.
As a cultural mantra, “Lock her up” has become entirely unmoored from any specific conspiracy about Clinton. At this point, it’s more like a Pavlovian response, generated by citizens whose political views and behaviors are driven not by any coherent ideology, but by a reflexive hostility toward all women.
In this sense, the pronoun “her” was never just about Clinton. She was merely a convenient scapegoat for any woman who refused to accept the patriarchal yoke, who dared to call her male opponent a credulous puppet, who decried his sexual predation, who refused to accept his laughable excuse that bragging about sexually assaulting women was “locker room talk.”
I can hear now much more clearly, in this despotic chant, the desire to create a culture in which men have legal dominion over women and girls.
Sometimes this desire is overt. Women and girl migrants who come to America fleeing danger? Lock them up. Women who want to exercise their reproductive rights? Lock them up. Woman who dare to speak about sexual harassment and abuse? Well, if we can’t lock them up, we can at least shut them up.