Will America ever be able to shatter that glass ceiling?

Published: November 13, 2016
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Clinton was questioned whether American people were ready to accept a first lady with headstrong opinions and an agenda. PHOTO: REUTERS

What was Hillary Clinton’s major downfall; the Benghazi issueClinton Foundation allegations or the email scandal? Or was it the most inane yet detrimental factor; her gender? As fragile as a glass ceiling may sound, America proved it’s the toughest ceiling to break through.

To what extent sexism shaped the 2016 election would be impossible to gauge through statistics. But these elections proved to be a testament to the fact that men can get away with sexist and misogynistic slurs, even in the 21st century.

In 1996, during an interview, Clinton was questioned about whether the American people were ready to accept a first lady with headstrong opinions and an agenda. Would a male ever be asked the same question? No, because that is what is expected of a male leader.

She’s been compared to a nagging wife; apparently men wouldn’t want to vote for her since it reminds them of their wife yelling, ‘take out the garbage,’ and the shrillness of her voice took away from the dainty appeal she was supposed to project as a woman.

Moreover, her likeability was always under question and her lack of connectivity as a woman was a major concern for most Americans as well.

How did Clinton’s likeability, voice, opinionated personality and connectivity become issues in the first place? Would these factors ever come into play for a male presidential candidate?

Whether we accept it or not, sexism stealthily crept into the 2016 presidential race and it was glaring at us right in the face.

Unfortunately, the chauvinism card was played by Donald Trump’s supporters who resorted to abusive language towards Clinton in the form of t-shirts which read ‘Trump that b***h.’ One of Trump’s supporter, who happens to be a doctor, made an ad offering free testosterone tests to men who wanted to vote for Clinton.

Somehow, this was all overlooked in jest, as it has always been.

Though, blaming Trump wholly wouldn’t be fair since he only provided these individuals with a platform to channel their buried sentiments. Trump only fanned the flames of a fire burnt eons ago.

The exit polls paint a grim picture of what Trump’s America looks like. Since Trump had established a popular coalition with rural America, most of his vote bank consisted of men and women from lesser educated backgrounds. What was shocking though was how a large percentage of white male college graduates also played a pivotal role in his landslide victory.

Even though these polls don’t certify the prevalence of sexism in the elections, it does make one wonder how most men voted for Trump, completely disregarding his lewd and uncouth remarks towards females.

But what was most alarming was how Trump’s supporters voted on a poll question regarding his treatment of women;

“Does Donald Trump’s treatment of women bother you?”

While 83% of Clinton supporters said yes, 87% of Trump supporters said not at all.

And there you have it, today’s America.

It was surprising that a nation such as Pakistan, which ranks last in the gender equality global ranking, succeeded in electing a female prime minister twice; yet America ­– the most progressive nation – failed to elect their first female president.

Trumps gender affected his win; after all, it was a validation of his masculinity. Would it have been any other male candidate other than Trump, Clinton would have regardless lost – because Clinton is a woman at the end of the day.

The 2016 election proved how men are allowed to behave and what women are allowed to achieve.

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Mushal Zaman

Mushal Zaman

The author is a sub-editor at Tribune. She tweets as @MushalZ90 (twitter.com/MushalZ90)

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