Hillary Rodham Clinton made it official on Sunday, announcing via video that she intends to run for president in 2016. “Everyday Americans need a champion,” said Clinton. “I want to be that champion.” As Hillary rises to slay political dragons, there will inevitably be grumblings about whether or not the world is ready for a woman president to lead America.
Interestingly enough, Hillary supporters were out in force toting blue signs that read, “I’m ready for Hillary”. One wonders if they’re also ready and willing to tackle the sexism that will come from all directions with this presidential run. As with the racism thrown at President Barack Obama, it’s doubtful this ignorant thinking and behavior would go away if she were to win.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) April 12, 2015
There’s a couple of advantages that Clinton enjoys that Obama did not. As a completely white woman, no one will question her American identity or repeatedly accuse her of being a Muslim terrorist who hates the United States. She also has the support of support of husband and former president Bill Clinton. Despite his in office scandal, he does enjoy continued popularity among voting members of the public.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 12, 2015
These aside, it’s likely that Clinton will be hit on all sides by inappropriate comments and ridiculous attacks. I look for this behavior to be justified as being “tough” and “fair”. It would probably echo the explanation that presidential candidate (and long shot) Rand Paul offered for his own behavior toward women. Although Rand came under fire for his rude behavior to women interviewers and reporters, he insists that he will offer Hillary Clinton the respect she deserves as a political rival.
“I would treat her with the same respect that I would treat a man, but I wouldn’t lay down and say, ‘Oh, I’m not going to respond out of some sort of [sense of chivalry]’ and I think that would be a sexist response to say, ‘Oh, my goodness, she deserves not to be treated as aggressively, because she’s only a woman.”
Attacking someone aggressively over their political stances and past decisions is one thing; carefully coding phrases to imply that her gender and age (ageism tends to hit women much harder than men) is another matter entirely.
Hillary Clinton won’t just have to contend with the behaviors of her male (and female) opposition; the mainstream media’s reporting of her campaign will also be a minefield of hidden anti-woman and casually sexist rhetoric. Fortunately for the presidential candidate, there are “super volunteers” already prepping to directly counter any and all media sexism aimed at the former Secretary of State. They don’t officially work for Hillary, but still believe it’s their responsibility to confront any attempts to smear Clinton based on gender bias.
— Vox (@voxdotcom) April 12, 2015
It would be a wonderful thing if the outcome of the election were free of sexism and gender-related bigotry. However, one only need glance at the ugliness brought out by the waning Obama presidency to know that should Hillary Clinton win, we will have to put up with years of casual and overt sexism.
Do you think sexism will decide the outcome of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, or will her gender be irrelevant after all?
[Image Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images]