Hillary and Sexism on the Trail

Much has been said here over the past months about the sexism that Hillary Clinton has confronted throughout her campaign. The WaPo has a piece today on the subject and the fact that Hillary Clinton is vowing to “battle on” with her campaign.

Women of all ages and nationalities push against the rope line carrying books and T-shirts, posters and stuffed animals — anything for her to autograph. They tote huge signs that shout “Hillary Cares About Me”– and they tearfully grab her hand to implore her to stick it out, to take her trailing campaign all the way to the Democratic convention in Denver.

They say they have come to show support for Hillary Clinton not merely because she is a woman or because her campaign is breaking historic ground, but because she speaks to them about their real problems and they are furious at the way she has been treated.

On Sunday, in an interview, Hillary Clinton addressed for the first time, “what women have been talking about for months, what she refers to as the “sexist” treatment she has endured at the hands of the pundits, media and others.”

The lewd T-shirts. The man who shouted “Iron my shirt” at a campaign event. The references to her cleavage and her cackle.

“It’s been deeply offensive to millions of women,” Clinton said. “I believe this campaign has been a groundbreaker in a lot of ways. But it certainly has been challenging given some of the attitudes in the press, and I regret that, because I think it’s been really not worthy of the seriousness of the campaign and the historical nature of the two candidacies we have here.”

Later, when asked if she thinks this campaign has been racist, she says she does not. And she circles back to the sexism. “The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and . . . there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head,” she said. “It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists.”

With a big win expected tonight in Kentucky, Clinton has no intention of stepping aside. She contends the nomination has not been decided. As Barack Obama “refers to her politely in the past tense,” and John McCain “simply ignores her, and the pundits snicker that she’s delusional and should just step aside already, she is a woman definitely not preparing her remarks for a graceful exit anytime soon.” And that is precisely “what her supporters want to hear.”

I’m real tired of the pundits telling me the race is over — telling America what it should think,” said Dorinda Perkins, 63, a lab technician. “I do not want her to quit.”

“I love her because she’s a helluva fighter. She’s tenacious and I like that,” said Pat Parker, a night-shift worker at Hardee’s in Bowling Green. “She cares for everybody, for people like me. . . . I’ll tell you, she’s been treated pretty shabby.”

Naila Alam and four of her Pakistani relatives — all women and all voters — drove from Virginia to Kentucky over the weekend to see if they could help the campaign. “Hillary: She is going to take care of women all over the world,” Alam declared. “She is our best hope. She cares about protecting the family with good health care and lower gas prices.”

Andrea Steagall, 20, also made a long trek, rising at 3:30 a.m. Monday to drive across the state to Maysville to catch Clinton’s remarks. “My husband was deployed to Afghanistan, and I know she’s all for making sure our veterans are taken care of,” said the young woman, a cashier at a convenience store.

Clinton also noted in the interview, “that the “intensity of my support” was rarely reported, adding, “I think that is a disservice because we have broad coalitions of voters who have voted for me who make up the base of a winning campaign in November that I think want to see this end up with my being nominated.””

We’re going to give people in remaining states a chance to vote. We’re going to resolve Michigan and Florida,” she said.

Over the past few days, Clinton has looked rested and relaxed. No matter how the questions were asked, she resisted any entreaties to reflect on the campaign in a way that might suggest it’s over. She let out a throaty laugh when asked in Sunday’s interview if she could be put “on the couch” for a few minutes to talk about how she has grown through the campaign. But she quickly said she has been too focused on winning to think about that.

She made it clear at every stop that she has every intention of keeping her campaign going, raising questions about whether she will throw in the towel on June 3, the day of the last primaries, as some Democrats had hoped.

“This race is far from over!” she thundered defiantly to the several hundred die-hard supporters at the high school here in George Clooney‘s birthplace. “I’m going to make my case and I’m going to make it until there’s a nominee, and we’re not going to have one today and we’re not going to have one tomorrow and we’re not going to have one the next day.”

Now as the race for the nomination is coming to a close, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton has found her voice. And it is a voice that resonates with so many women. “Early in her campaign,” the WaPo notes, “she was self-conscious about becoming the women’s candidate, intent instead on suiting up as commander in chief.” Some where along the way, she “stopped caring about the polls,” and she “took her campaign to the people and gave voters a window into her soul.”

It’s that window into her soul that has opened up the hearts of women (and men) across America. She has shown the voters that she is, as I have said here so many times, the candidate who is listening to the needs of the voters. The wounds inflicted by the barrage of sexism against Clinton in this campaign, will not in my opinion fade once the nominee is chosen. Because women have seen categorically that we still have not “come a long way.”

I’ve always supported Hillary Clinton in this race because I feel she is the best and most qualified candidate. But the sexism so prevelent in the campaign has deepened my resolve in so many ways, on the importance of putting a woman into the highest office in the land. It may not happen this time around, and if it doesn’t, I believe that women across America will renew the battle for equal rights with a vengence.

The audio of Hillary Clinton’s interview with the WaPo’s Lois Romano is here.

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2 Responses to Hillary and Sexism on the Trail

  1. Kendall Johnson says:

    Thank you Pamela for finally addressing this problem. I think that if it was exposed earlier with the support that would have been necessary to quash it, Hillary Clinton would already be our Nominee. Now the Dems lose!!!! Many women, including myself, will not vote for Obama after watching the media and the DNC openly and agressively screw her out of this nomination!!!! I just can’t vote for the good old boys pick after all this hate they engender towards us women. The way they have treated Hillary has exposed their misogyny and we will not forget. They are no better than the republicans!!! So like the republicans, I cannot support them or such a misogynistic party that obviously hates me, my daughter, my mother and sisters. They can all go F**k themselves!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Today, all over the country, at 6:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. women will be protesting the sexism in the media in front of all NBC affiliates. I will be there with my sign! JoAnne Tybinka Blasko