3 Perfect Hillary Clinton Responses To Sexist Questions, In Case You Needed A Little Inspiration
If there's one thing that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has working for her in the 2016 presidential race, it's experience. Save for former Republican governors Mike Huckabee and likely candidate Jeb Bush, who were occupying statehouses back in the 1990s, no other Republican officially running has held elected office for more than five years. And it isn't only political experience she has working in her favor, either — Hillary Clinton has some perfect responses to sexism that she's flashed over the years, honed by life as a woman under the public spotlight.
Frankly, some of them may make you want to cheer, but make no mistake, it's a shame that she needs to be prepared for this sort of thing. Clinton is far more than the potential historical significance her election would represent — she's also an experienced policymaker, a women's rights advocate, a diplomat, and a towering icon of her political era. So it probably comes as a rude awakening, with all that robust history, when shes asked about her clothing in an interview, or people grouse about whether she's too old to be President — so, is Mitt Romney too old, too?
Here are three times that Hillary Clinton encountered a sexist moment, and sent it flying right back.
My Husband Is Not The Secretary Of State
While making a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo back in 2009, Clinton got involved in a testy exchange with a questioner. Speaking to a group of students, the following was posed to her: "What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton and what does Mr. Mutombo think on this situation?"
They were discussing issues surrounding the World Bank, and as detailed by The Telegraph, her real beef was with the translator— her questioner had referred to "Mr. Obama," not "Mr. Clinton," but it got mixed up in translation. And so, armed only with what had been asked directly of her, she gave this reply:
Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am. So you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion; I'm not going to be channeling my husband.
Again, this one serves as a lesson about the perils of botched translation — the questioner was actually asking her to speak for President Obama, which as Secretary of State was very much called for. But what it appeared to be was an accomplished, high-profile woman being asking "what's your husband think about this," and her terse response was right-on.
Would You Ever Ask A Man That Question?
In 2010, Clinton had another sexism-related dustup while in Kyrgyzstan, thanks to an interviewer who had fashion on the brain. While being asked more or less standard policy questions about U.S./Kyrgyzstan relations, a question was put to Clinton that clearly rankled her a bit, and you can see why.
Asked "what designers do you wear," Hillary responded pretty succinctly: "Would you ever ask a man that question?" The audience laughed, Clinton laughed, and so did the interviewer — a more lighthearted response to the gaffe, basically.
However, as New York Magazine's Dan Amira pointed out at the time, the preceding comments Clinton had just made rendered the interviewer's fashion question even more awkward — she'd just finished telling a female law student about how differently women are treated in the professional world.
If you are in the courtroom or you are presenting a case, it still is a fact — and this is not just in Kyrgyzstan, this is everywhere — that when a man walks into a courtroom it's rare for someone to say, "Oh, look what he is wearing." But if you walk into a courtroom, or any young woman walks into a courtroom, people are going to notice. And that will be an additional requirement that you have to meet.
Ouch. Pay more attention to the answers next time!
For Being A Woman?
In 2012, after concluding her single term as U.S. Secretary of State, Clinton started making the publicity rounds for her memoir, Hard Choices. One controversial topic the book broached — her belief that the 2008 Obama campaign had some elements of sexism.
Specifically, her book detailed how she rejected a campaign request from the Obama camp in 2008, after she'd conceded the primary and the general election was in full swing.
John McCain has just picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate, Clinton said, and the Obama campaign wanted her to publicly attack Palin, ostensibly to undercut some of the rhetoric the Republicans were using. Palin, you might remember, tried to appeal to Clinton's supporters to throw their weight behind her own candidacy. Clinton wrote that she balked at the request, however, as detailed by Politico.
That very first day, the Obama campaign said, "Well, we want you to go out there and criticize her," and I said "For what? For being a woman? No, let’s wait until we know where she stands, I don’t know anything about her. Do you know anything about her?"
None of this means you have to regard President Obama or his campaign as a bunch of sneering misogynists, of course. Sometimes campaigns and their supporters go in strange, unlikely, and unwelcome directions, and that's true regardless of party — as The Telegraph detailed in 2011, supporters of Clinton's 2008 campaign effectively launched the highly racist Birther movement, a fact that often goes overlooked.
But Clinton's willingness to take a lash at her former boss — a sitting Democratic president no less — demonstrates that she's not afraid to chafe some party powers, if need be.
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