Painful to watch: Hillary Clinton battles 40 years of sexist questions in three minute video

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Kayleigh Dray
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Hillary Clinton, as the first female US presidential candidate for a major party, has helped to crack the glass ceiling for womankind.

Yet, during the course of her long public career, Clinton has been subjected to an overwhelming number of gender-charged questions.

Now, thanks to a new video montage created by The National Memo, we can track almost 40 years of Hillary Clinton—as first lady, senator, and presidential candidate – speaking with journalists.

And it’s painful to watch.

The shocking video has outlined just how difficult it is to be a woman in the world of politics – and how often the media will subject a female politician to gendered criticism.

“You’re really not all that interested in state dinners and teas and garden parties?” asked one confused male reporter in 1979.

In 1996, another asked: “Do you think the American people are ready yet to have a first lady who has strong opinions and an agenda?”

The footage, compiled from media events throughout Clinton’s 40 years in the public eye, also saw her physical appearance called into question on countless occasions, with some suggesting that she didn’t smile enough.

Other reporters commented that “foreign leaders [had] tried to determine what her hairstyles meant” – whatever that may mean.

And countless others went on to question Clinton’s “likeability”, with some even suggesting that “men won’t vote for [her] because she reminds them of their nagging wives.”

Clinton’s likeability remains a criticism even now, with some suggesting that it may cost her voters in her 2016 presidential bid.

Kelly Dittmar, a researcher at Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, told Time magazine: “What research from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation finds is that likability matters more for women candidates than for men. In other words, voters are much more comfortable voting for male candidates that they don’t like, but think are qualified to serve.

“For women, likability and qualifications are tied together in voters’ minds. They must demonstrate both traits to earn voter support.”

She continued: “It’s no surprise, then, that we seem to spend a lot more time worrying about how likable Hillary Clinton is than we do about whether or not we want to have a beer with Donald Trump.”

As a result of this, we have seen Clinton challenged by reporters on numerous occasions as to why she thinks that voters don’t like her – and Trump has yet to be asked the same.

Even her successes have been marred by sexism; to illustrate the news that Clinton had been awarded the nomination at the Democratic convention, many newspapers ran photos of her husband, Bill, the former president.

However, despite all of the setbacks, Clinton continues to face down her critics – and seeks to inspire women everywhere to challenge gender norms.

“We’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union: the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president,” she said at the Democratic 2016 convention.

She continued: “Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too – because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone.

“When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”

Image: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.