That sexism played a huge role in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is undeniable. Hillary Clinton, the first women to be nominated as a presidential candidate for a major party, was maligned by the media, her opponents, and even other Democrats in unprecedented ways. In her new memoir, What Happened, Clinton addresses how that sexism affected her and offers some words of advice for a future generation of female politicians.
"I suspect that for many of us — more than we might think — it feels somehow off to picture a woman President sitting in the Oval Office or the Situation Room," she writes. "It's discordant to tune into a political rally and hear a woman's voice booming ("screaming," "screeching") forth."
However, despite this, Clinton remains hopeful that there one day there will be a woman sitting in the Oval Office — and she hopes she'll still be around to help put her there. "She'll have to earn my vote based on her qualifications, just like anyone else," she writes. "When that day comes, I believe that my two presidential campaigns will have helped pave the way for her."
Below, read some of the most enlightening, infuriating, heartwrenching, and hopeful quotes on sexism from Hillary Clinton's memoir:
On the Subtle Influence of Sexism
"But Donald Trump didn't invent sexism, and its impact on our politics goes far beyond this one election. It's like a planet that astronomers haven't precisely located yet but know exists because they can see its impact on other planets' orbits and gravities. Sexism exerts its pull on our politics and our society every day, in ways both subtle and crystal clear."
On the Ways Society Draws "Boxes" Around Women
"Sexism is all the big and little ways that society draws a box around women and says, 'You stay in there.' Don't complain because nice girls don't do that. Don't try to be something women shouldn't be. Do't wear that, don't go there, don't think that, don't earn too much. It's not right somehow, we can't explain why, stop asking."
On the Difference Between Sexism and Misogyny
"Misogyny is something darker [than sexism.] It's rage. Disgust. Hatred. It's what happens when a woman turns down a guy at a bar and he switches from charming to scary. Or when a woman gets a job that a man wanted and instead of shaking her hand and wishing her well, he calls her a bitch and vows to do everything he can to make sure she fails."
On the Cruelness of Being a Woman in Politics
"It's not easy to be a woman in politics. That's an understatement. It can be excruciating, humiliating. The moment a woman steps forward and says, 'I'm running for office,' it begins: the analysis of her face, her body, her voice, her demeanor; the diminishment of her stature, her ideas, her accomplishments, her integrity. It can be unbelievably cruel."
On Being Torn Apart in the Spotlight
"For the record, it hurts to be torn apart. It may seem like it doesn't me to be called terrible names or have my looks mocked viciously, but it does. I'm used to it — I've grown what Eleanor Roosevelt has said women in politics need: a skin as thick as rhinoceros hide."
On the "Balancing Act of Women in Politics"
"In my experience, the balancing act women in politics have to master is challenging at every level, but it gets worse the higher you rise. If we're too tough, we're unlikeable. If we're too soft, we're not cut out for the big leagues. If we work too hard, we're neglecting our families. If we put family first, we're not serious about the work. If we have a career but no children, there's something wrong with us, and vice versa. If we want to compete for a higher office, we're too ambitious. Can't we just be happy with what we have? Can't we leave the higher rungs on the ladder for men?"
On Raising a Daughter in a Sexist Society
"There's just something about daughters. From the very beginning, I felt a rush of wisdom that I wanted to impart to her about womanhood: how to be brave, how to build real confidence and fake it when you have to, how to respect yourself without taking yourself too seriously, how to love yourself or at least try to and never stop trying, how to love others generously and courageously, how to be strong but gentle, how to decide whose opinion to value and whose to disregard quietly, how to believe in yourself even when others don't. Some of these lessons were hard-won for me. I wanted badly to save my daughter the trouble."
On the Difference Between Male & Female Politicians
"Why am I seen as such a divisive figure and, say, Joe Biden and John Kerry aren't? They're run for president. They've served at high levels of government. They've cast votes of all kinds, including some they regret, just like me. What makes me such a lightning rod for fury? I'm really asking. I'm at a loss."
On Being "Guarded"
"People say I'm guarded, and they have a point. I think before I speak. I don't just blurt out whatever comes to mind. It's a combination of my natural inclination, plus my training as a lawyer, plus decades in the public eye where every word I say is scrutinized. But why is this a bad thing? Don't we want our Senators and Secretaries of State—and especially our Presidents—to speak thoughtfully, to respect the impact of our words?"
On Feeling Like You Can't Win
"If we're too composed, we're cold and fake. But if we say what we think without caution, we get slammed for it. Can you blame us for feeling like we can't win, no matter what we do?"
On "Goodhearted" Men
"I can't count the number of times that goodhearted men who should know better dismiss the notion that sexism and outright misogyny are still potent forces in our national life. 'But things have changed,' they say, as Donald Trump brags about groping women and a few weeks later wins the presidency, as his rally-goers chant 'Trump that bitch,' as the White House proudly releases photos of old white men gleefully deciding which health services to take away from women."
On That Second Presidential Debate
“This is not okay, I thought. We were on a small stage and no matter where I walked, [Trump] followed me closely, staring at me, making faces.... It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, ‘Well, what would you do?’ Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘Back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’”
On the Fear of Being a Woman
"Something I wish every man across America understood is how much fear accompanies women throughout our lives. So many of us have been threatened or harmed. So many of us have helped friends recover from a traumatic incident. It's difficult to convey what all this violence does to us. It adds up in our hearts and our nervous systems."
On the Socialization of Men and Woman
"Men aren't naturally more confident than women. We tell them to believe in themselves and we tell women to doubt themselves. We tell them this in a million ways, starting when they're young. We've got to do better. Every single one of us."
On Whether or Not America Will Ever Have A Female President
"Will we ever have a woman President? We will. I hope I'll be around to vote for her — assuming I agree with her agenda. She'll have to earn my vote based on her qualifications and ideas, just like anyone else. When that day comes, I believe that my two presidential campaigns will have helped pave the way for her. We did not win, but we made the sight of a woman nominee more familiar. We brought the possibility of a woman president closer. We helped bring into the mainstream the idea of a woman leader for our country... That's why I am heartened that a wave of women across America have expressed more willingness to run for office after this election, not less."