A Year Of Sexism On The Trail With Clinton

It's hard to believe that it's already been one year since Hillary Clinton announced her presidential run. But here we are! It's been a year of surprises, intense rhetoric and emotionally charged stump speeches that have established the former Secretary of State as the front-runner in this closer-everyday Democratic primary — holding 1,307 pledged delegates to Sen. Bernie Sanders' 1,087. It's been a year that's inspired the Democratic party to think critically about her faults and her strengths — and, primarily, I'd say it's been focused on the issues.

But, no surprise here, it's also been a year that showed off exactly the kind of misogynistic garbage a female politician is likely to face while trying to get elected to the country's highest office — from overt biases, careless double-standards to more insidious, internalized misogyny. Clinton hasn't run a perfect campaign by any means: There have been fumbles, set-backs, mistakes and losses, like you'd expect from any campaign. However, the hearty sampling of good ol' fashioned American sexism on her journey so far has certainly left its own mark on conversations surrounding this election cycle. Though we still don't know for sure who will ultimately take the title of Democratic nominee, the egregious examples of misogyny that she's dealt with in the last 365 days have undoubtedly taught voters about the future of gender in American politics.

The Loud Double Standards

It's no secret that I get heated when lady politicians are told to quiet down, smile more or adjust their tone in a way that their male counterparts would never experience. When well-known, seasoned journalists are the ones tone-policing Clinton, this established politician and public speaker, because she seems to be shouting (in a crowded arena...), it was even more disappointing.

This is also relevant to the countless white-dude pundits who found it acceptable to hitch Clinton to the played-out "nagging wife" trope throughout her career. Not cool.

Some Hair-Raising Nonsense


When Clinton got an expensive haircut earlier this year, the $600 price tag was certainly enough to give any normal person sticker shock.

However, with Clinton we all know it's not really about the hairdo, so much as it's about being hyper-critical of high-profile women's appearances. If you recall, when she did what any normal girl does when her hair is the least of her concerns — put it up with a scrunchie and ignore it — she got flak for that too.

(And don't get me started on the pantsuits.)

The "Ambitious" Problem

When Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN's Jake Tapper that Clinton shouldn't "destroy the Democratic Party to satisfy the secretary's ambitions to become president of the United States," it was like all of the nightmarish predictions of campaign sexism came true. It read like an Onion article (in fact, it was an Onion article from 10 years ago).

A year ago, Bustle's own Claire Warner predicted that "ambition" criticism and broke down its cause:

Every time a woman sets her sights on a typically male field, she faces backlash for daring to have ambition beyond what society allows her. Although studies have shown that men and women exhibit the same behaviors when they're in positions of power, even more research indicates that women are consistently evaluated negatively for the same characteristics that make men such desirable leaders.

Man, it is depressing to be right sometimes.

Some Weird Thoughts About Her Qualifications

Sanders has run a clean race. He has primarily staying above the sexist fray and remained appropriately critical of his dubious followers who can't seem to follow that lead. However, he made a pretty weak rhetorical move during a Philadelphia rally where he claimed that Clinton — a former senator and secretary of state — was not qualified to be president. (Though he has since walked-back on that comment.)

Of course, he was attempting to take on some ideological differences he saw between himself and Clinton, but the phrasing and choice of words was indicative of a dismissive and insidious kind of sexism. Because, as Clare Malone and Julia Azari of FiveThirtyEight note, a female politician is held to such a high standard that her qualifications are everything:

That's why Sanders's statement about Clinton's qualifications cuts so deep — it seemed to send a volley at the fortress of qualification female candidates build up as proof of their worthiness to the public at large.

So that attack, careless as it was, hit on a particularly gendered nerve.

And Then There's Trump

Of course, you can't have a list about sexism without mentioning our favorite Republican front-runner. Donald Trump took one of the most bizarre shots at Clinton after an early debate when Clinton was the last Democratic hopeful to return to the podium from a bathroom break: "I know where she went — it's disgusting, I don't want to talk about it," Trump said. "No, it's too disgusting. Don't say it, it's disgusting."

We'll just spell it out for him, shall we?

Apparently, he still represents a time where women still maintained the illusion that they didn't have bodily functions to take care of. Imagine how scandalized he'd be to find out that women do both number one and number two.