Hillary Clinton might just be the next POTUS, but at the cost of unceasing sexism

Published: October 15, 2015
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Hillary Clinton, despite everything, stood strong and emerged as the clear winner of the debate.

You would think that Hillary Clinton, after a long and illustrious career in politics, would be done having to respond to questions that are seeped with sexist insinuations. You would think that after two presidential campaigns and a strong tenure in the office of the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton would not have to battle sexist stereotypes. You would think that after all this time, the discourse on Hillary Clinton would move beyond “But you’re a woman. Can you really do this?”

If you watched the democratic debate hosted by CNN a few days ago with the idea that Anderson Cooper would not drag Clinton through the mud of misogyny because you expect the world to have evolved, you might have missed the sexist undertones in some of his questions.

Cooper asked Clinton,

“Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency. You were against same sex marriage. Now you’re for it. You defended President Obama’s immigration policies. Now you say they’re too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozens of times. You even called it the ‘gold standard’. Now, suddenly, last week, you’re against it. Will you say anything to get elected?”

Now consider what TI had to say about Clinton in a radio interview a few days ago:

“… Every other position that exists, I think a woman could do well. But the president? It’s kind of like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally – they make very permanent, cemented decisions – and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen.”

Can you sense the resonance in the two statements?

They are both essentially predicated on the sexist notion that women are indecisive, rash and unable to commit to a particular decision.

One of the statements is blatantly exhibiting it, and the other is well shrouded.

It is significant to note that none of the other candidates, who were all men, were questioned about their changing positions on different subjects in such a manner.

Governor Lincoln Chafee, who should have been accused of indecision for repeatedly swapping party labels, was lightly admonished by Cooper for switching parties. On the other hand, Clinton was robustly targeted again for her alleged indecision on the Keystone Pipeline.

The consistent insinuation that her position and policies were irresolute prompted her to say,

“Well, you know, everybody on this stage has changed a position or two. We’ve been around a cumulative quite some period of time.”

The camera at that moment took a shot of the stage where Clinton stood strong in a line-up of four men.

“You know, we know that if you are learning, you’re going to change your position. I never took a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone.

So I’m not taking a back seat to anybody on my values, my principles and the results that I get.”

Clinton, despite everything, stood strong and emerged as the clear winner of the debate. She stood her ground firmly and her boldness translated into thundering applause from the audience.

The democratic debate revealed that sexist rhetoric these days exists in several forms. The form presented at the democratic debate is the type we need to be especially vigilant of because of its institutionalised character, its ability to permeate all discourse on women and, most importantly, escape notice. If we are not quick to identify the shadow of gender bias in political rhetoric, then the next Hillary, who stands up on a stage with four powerful men, just might not win.

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Blogs Desk

The Express Tribune Blogs desk.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hassam Durrani

    The TI statement is pure unadulterated sexism. No question about it. I’m not too sure about Anderson Cooper’s statement though. Anderson Cooper recently came out, and as a popular person who is gay would be very familiar with encountering bigotry, so I don’t think he would indulge in sexism himself. Also if the writer had followed the previous presidential election, Mitt Romney, the republican presidential nominee, was taken to the cleaners and absolutely destroyed for flip flopping on issues. It became such a big thing that flip flops with Romney’s face were shown on political ads by his rivals. He was anti Obamacare as a Republican presidential nominee and had applied the same healthcare program as Governor of the state of Massachusetts because it was a blue state. People are questioned for constantly changing positions for political expediency, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Clinton being one of the front runners will naturally be scrutinized more, as she should. If she has good enough reasons for evolving her positions she can surely defend herself, but I don’t think questioning her on flip flopping is sexisim. Perhaps the writer is reading a little too much into the case of CNN.Recommend

  • Zeb Haque

    What was the point of this article ? It seems like a rehash of few articles of politco, huffington post etc, pls employ above medicore writers. Recommend

  • Khurram

    Seriously? So Cooper questioned a politician about something that politicians do and this particular politician has. You took his question supplemented it with a blatantly sexist remark from ANOTHER PERSON and tried to paint Cooper a sexist? Where is your logic?Recommend

  • IceSoul

    It is a FACT that Clinton has changed her position on practically everything. That is not up for debate. She’s a hypocrite and her gender has absolutely nothing to do with it. I was hoping that Elizabeth Warren would get elected, but unfortunately, she has decided not to run.

    If you think calling someone out on their hypocrisy is sexism then you really need to buy a dictionary.Recommend

  • Videlicet

    Cooper’s question does point out blaring changes of heart from a person who was close to President and the same person hoping to be elected. There is nothing sexist about it as much as there is nothing gender-specific about being opportunistic.

    TI statement appears to have been created by Clinton– it sounds so unreasonably sexist that it may try to publicise sexist thoughts and thus work in her favour. It is like calling a person very foul names and give an illogical reason against a person to create a sympathy wave for the person. “Every position a woman can do well, but president? NOOO!” will only make people think- “come on, why not? Let’t give HER a chance”Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Anderson Cooper asked a very legitimate question. She’s the front runner, she was the Secretary of State. She gets the toughest questions. But somebody had to bring in sexism into this. For the record, I hope she is the next POTUSRecommend

  • Parvez

    Anderson Cooper did an admirable job as the moderator and if at times he played the devils advocate it was more to allow the candidate to showcase his / her view point.
    In my opinion Bernie Sanders came across as the winner and your feeling that sexism was at play in this debate, seems to be misconstrued.Recommend

  • Skeptic

    You are making a mountain out of a molehill on the Cooper question. It was a very legitimate question. By the way Bernie Sanders clearly won the debate and is a much better candidate for becoming President, for America and for the rest of the world.Recommend

  • Midhat

    Are you serious about Anderson Cooper? That was one legitimate question. how did sexism come into picture. You are being way too over sensitive !
    And about T.I that kid from the block. You quoted him? He is a D.J for God’s Sake. How can his opinion be taken seriously on political matters. The US is taking Clinton very seriously and her gender never comes into question. Give it a restRecommend