Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign has been historic. However, as the first female major party candidate and especially with Donald Trump as her opponent, she was sure to face sexism along the way. Of course, she has received a significant amount of sexist attacks that lack any justifiable criticism.
It's undeniable that Hillary Clinton’s gender plays a major role in her campaign when there are Trump supporters who wear shirts and pins that say “Trump that bitch,” or “Hillary sucks, but not like Monica.” This merch isn't officially from the Trump campaign, but Trump did acknowledge and poke fun at a “Trump that bitch” bumper sticker at one of his rallies. Remember how outraged Trump supporters were after Clinton made her “deplorables” comment? That pales in comparison to the sexist slurs hurled her way.
Take, for example, Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller who, by way of Twitter, called her the c-word. "PENNSYLVANIA: NEW AUTO ALLIANCE POLL TRUMP 44 CU** 43 Go Trump Go!" Miller tweeted. He deleted it within just 10 minutes.
She also faces sexism that’s not as overt as sexist slurs. Salon reports that Clinton has had to deal with her successes being downplayed or ignored, her supporters being attacked of only supporting her because of her gender (aka, playing the “woman card”), and with being simultaneously told that she’s only been successful because of her husband and that she’s to blame for his mistakes.
Indeed, it is alarming that Hillary Clinton is criticized as harshly for her husband’s actions as Donald Trump is for his own actions. She’s frequently attacked for Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs and for other mistakes her husband made, which is unfair.
Hillary Clinton is not perfect. No candidate is; they’ve all made mistakes. The difference is that Hillary Clinton’s mistakes are taken as ultimatum-- evidence that she would not be a strong leader. This isn't necessarily all bad, of course, many criticize her because they legitimately don’t agree with her positions. However, there’s no denying that a sexist double standard exists.
The key points Clinton is most criticized for are, of course, her private email servers and the Benghazi attack. There was no evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton found in the House Benghazi Report, and charges against Clinton over her use of private email servers while she was secretary of state were not recommended by FBI Director James Comey (however, recently, the investigation was reinvigorated after the discovery of previously unseen emails from Huma Abedin on the laptop she shared with her estranged husband Anthony Weiner). Yet, these issues come up time and time again. Even though there’s currently no evidence of wrongdoing in either situation, she is still constantly condemned for both. To some extent, this makes sense, considering women in many different careers are held to higher standards than men are.
Friendly reminder that Donald Trump is on tape literally condoning, explaining, and justifying his tactics of sexual assault, and we’re still talking about her emails.
The most troubling aspect of all this madness is perhaps that Hillary Clinton is far from the only woman in politics to face harsh gender-driven criticism. According to PBS, “Female candidates have long faced more resistance, and received less support from men and women alike, even though the percentage of people who say they feel comfortable voting for women has gone steadily up.” Women across the board face sexism and discrimination in politics largely because there is still a stigma that women do not make strong leaders.
At a rally in Ohio on November 1st, President Obama told a crowd of supporters that, “Hillary Clinton is consistently treated differently than just about any other candidate I see out there.” He added, “you know, there’s a reason why we haven’t had a woman president before.” There is, but that will not remain our reality if we support and encourage women seeking office or other leadership positions. Until then, a sexist double standard will undoubtedly remain a significant part of the political process.
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