Hillary Clinton Has Fought The “Frail Old Woman” Stereotype For Too Long

Ever since Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton started coughing at campaign rallies, rumors about her health have circulated, and speculation has taken over. Headlines like "Gross! Hillary Clinton Caught Coughing Phlegm Wad into Glass at Rally" and "'IT LOOKS LIKE ALIEN EGGS' Conspiracy Theorists Sent into a Frenzy Over Bizarre Video of Hillary Clinton Coughing up Green Mucus" started making their rounds on the internet. But the attempt to make Clinton appear frail and incapable of performing at a presidential level is not only ridiculous, but also sexist.

The Washington Post recently wrote that Sean Hannity has devoted air time on his Fox News show last week to discussing Clinton's health, suggesting that it was more serious than she claims and that there is some major cover up going on. Clinton's doctor confirmed she's battling pneumonia, and the campaign has certainly downplayed that a bit, but there is no reason for a talk news host to so viciously go after a candidate's health.

Hannity's goal is to undermine her as a capable candidate. As we're constantly reminded, plenty of people think women shouldn't serve as president and have argued every sexist point in the book about how our hormones can't be controlled and how God made women to follow men. Apparently, we should not be trusted with the power to start a war because we just have so many darn mood swings. This attack on Clinton and portrayal of her as a sick, frail woman who can't be in the right state to run a country is absurd.

Outlets have gone so far as to speculate that Clinton might have Parkinson's, with the basic reasoning being that coughing is a symptom. Seriously? If someone wants to attack Clinton, they can attack her for the way she handled her private email server, or for something they disagree with in her policy. But to immediately cast her as a helpless woman who is unfit to serve is not OK.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Clinton has been subjected to the categorization of "frail." Back in 2014, she posed for a cover of People magazine, and was photographed with her hands resting casually on the back of a chair. That didn't stop the Washington Free Beacon from speculating that the chair in fact was some type of walker or wheelchair. It got to the point where People actually had to make a statement confirming that it was not in fact a wheelchair, but a patio chair in Clinton's backyard.

The fact that Clinton is facing so much scrutiny because of her bout of sickness is probably only making her symptoms worse. Imagine facing criticism your entire life, with people telling you that you do not belong or you are taking the place of a man, and finding any opportunity to attack you for it.

Then, you come down with a sickness that you figure will only garner attention from a group of people who want to see you fail in your mission to be the president of the United States, so you downplay that sickness a little, in an effort to focus on your campaign and the issues of the country. Yes, it comes off badly because it looks like a transparency issue, but after being in the spotlight for so many years and wanting some part of your life — in this case, your health — to be a little private, it makes sense.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

For decades, Clinton has been smashing barriers and getting work done as a woman who can hold her own. This election season is no different. Yes, presidential candidates are (rightly) subjected to more scrutiny than the average person, as they are trying to fill an incredibly high-power role in the country. However, this specific type of scrutiny is uncalled for. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is on the campaign trail saying all kinds of offensive things.

Let's stop talking about Clinton's health and get back to focusing on what really matters: making sure Trump gets nowhere near the White House.