Given how volatile the entire presidential election season has been, it shouldn't have been surprising to see the criticism of Hillary Clinton before the debate even happened. But she was the target of hostile and sexist attacks on Twitter three days before the Sept. 26 debate. The woman hasn't even climbed onto the debate stage, and already some social media users are complaining about having to hear her voice or see her wrinkles; they're wondering if she'll break down in tears or be able to make it through the 90-minute event without having to use the bathroom. I'd like to say I'm shocked, but you know, I'm not.
Unfortunately, all this is old hat for Clinton. The fact is, sexist double standards have become such a deep rooted part of this election that by now they're just downright boring. I mean, it's hardly original to call Clinton an "old hag" or imply that because she's an aggressive woman she's thereby unlikable. We've seen male commentators liken Clinton to a nagging wife, Republican nominee Donald Trump has argued she just doesn't have that "presidential look," she's been told to smile more, to be more warm and likable (because Trump is such a warm guy?). Critics and pundits have attacked everything from her voice to her age to her fashion, and, of course, her perceived lack of emotion. These eight tweets show the sexist criticism Clinton faced even before she took the debate stage:
Still unconvinced? Take a look at some of the campaign paraphernalia Atlantic reporter Peter Beinhart found at the Republican National Convention, which included T-shirts reading, "Hillary sucks but not like Monica" and pins declaring, "KFC Hillary special. 2 fat thighs. 2 small breasts … left wing."
There are valid criticism and arguments to be made for why Clinton isn't the best choice on the ballot, but her age, stamina, appearance, or emotional capability aren't among those; nonetheless, they're continually touted as reasons why she's unfit for the presidency. Furthermore, it's still impossible to deny that Clinton, as a woman in politics, has been combating sexism and misogyny for decades. She is repeatedly forced to answer questions never asked of male politicians or presidential candidates and is continually subjected to a level of criticism and scrutiny embedded with sexist undertones.