Sexism has long been a rival of working women, whether they waitress at the local diner (“Hey, sweetie, where’s my coffee?”) or work as top executives in large corporations (“Don’t mind her. She’s just a demanding bitch.”), but Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has elicited an awareness of sexism on a whole new level from the American people, one that’s hitting her campaign in a most negative way.
The type of sexism affecting Hillary Clinton’s campaign isn’t riddled with your typical blatant sexist remarks or comments about a woman’s body (unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump, who believes that a woman’s bathroom break is “disgusting”). No, the kind of sexism that exists today is far subtler and often far more damaging because it can be hidden in context and dismissed as misinterpretation.
In fact, Fortune reports that most companies don’t even realize they have a problem with gender discrimination, the signs are so subtle. Women are frequently overlooked for high level management positions, even in congress. Since Jeannette Rankin first entered the House of Representatives in 1917, there have been 313 women who have served in any congressional position since, according to the History, Art and Archives for the U.S. House of Representatives. Yet, since the inception of the American government and congress, over ten thousand men have served in the same positions. Currently, women hold less than 20% of congressional seats. Is this equality? Or just a subtler version of sexism? Don’t worry. We’re sure there are binders full of women waiting to fill those positions in the future.
So it’s no surprise that the women who are in these positions, and women like Hillary who aim even higher, wear targets on their backs. Actions that may go unnoticed for months or even years in a male candidate very quickly become a noticeable issue when a female candidate is the offender. The media, conservative and liberal channels alike, have recently called out Hillary for something as simple as raising her voice, which Bernie Sanders does regularly (and usually with the accompaniment of a cheering crowd), but Bernie’s never been called “shrill.”
Appear strong and she’s accused of being heartless and untrustworthy. Appear weak, though, and she’s a weepy, emotional woman who can’t handle a job so clearly carved out for a man, for surely the POTUS should be someone who is able to keep his emotions in check.
No, it seems far more important for the media and her rivals to keep track of her appearance. Despite the fact that Trump sports a disturbingly orange-hued “tan” and that Bernie Sanders always seems to have forgotten to comb his hair, it’s Hillary’s appearance that draws attention. It’s nothing new to her, of course, since she’s been used to this kind of treatment for quite some time.
It’s a shame that Hillary’s campaign just can’t win when it comes to image because what’s at stake is far more than her career. The country stands divided on issues now more than ever, and in a time when a qualified, capable woman is ready to accept the challenge of one of the most distinguished positions in the world (if not the most distinguished), the fact that much of America can’t listen to her proposed policies because they’re too busy critiquing her choice of outfit speaks volumes about the real gender discrimination issue that is still very much alive in the U.S.
What it means for Hillary, of course, is that she needs to run her campaign harder and smarter just to get America to listen to the meaning behind her words and not the decidingly grating pitch and punishing tone of voice. After the attacks she’s had to handle thus far, Hillary’s presidency should be a piece of cake by comparison…if she can get that far.