Hillary Clinton Courageously Takes On the Media For Propagating Sexism

more from Sarah Jones
Friday, April 4th, 2014, 5:20 pm


Former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton courageously took on the media for propagating of the inherent sexism in our culture, “The double standard is alive and well, and I think in many respects the media is the principal propagator of it’s persistence.” She quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, saying, “(I)f a woman wants to be involved in the public….she has to grow skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros.”


Former Sec. Clinton brought up several great points about the media’s treatment of women and double standards:

There is a double standard, obviously. We have all either experienced it, or have seen it. There is a deep-set of cultural, psychological views that are manifest through this double standard…Some of these attitudes persist, and if they persist in as open, and in many ways transformational society as ours is in the 21st century, you know how deep they are.

That’s why it’s important that we surface [the double standards], and why we talk about them, and help men and women recognize when they are crossing over from an individual judgement…into a stereotype. Into applying some kind of gender based characterization of the person. The double standard is alive and well, and I think in many respects the media is the principal propagator of it’s persistence.

The inside is equally important. One of my predecessors and personal heroines was Eleanor Roosevelt. And she famously said back in the 1920s that if a woman wants to be involved in the public….she has to grow skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros. So even back then, this was an obvious point of concern and contention.

Too many young women are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient to keep moving forward despite whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be.

That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others, believe me this hard-won advice. But it is a process. You need other women, you need your friends to support you, and you need male friends as well as female ones. You need good role models all of that is true. But at the end of the day, you really have to be good if you have high aspirations. You need to be well-educated, prepared, and willing to take your chances when they come your way. Cut yourself a little bit of slack.

Secretary Clinton’s advice is spot on. Too many female politicians and political pundits and writers are being chased out of service with ugly personal/sexist attacks. This ends up resulting in a continuation of the problem that we have laws being made by a predominantly male legislature, being interpretted for the public by most male reporters, pundits, and media.

The lens through which we view policy is male dominated, but women are actually the majority of the country.

Most recently, the flaw in this paradigm was witnessed in the clueless and humanity-killing discussions revolving around women’s rights to sovereignty over their own bodies. It’s tough to imagine the opposite – a world in which a mostly female legislature or Supreme Court considered their alleged “morality” to supersede a man’s right to make his own medical decisions. Further it with the idea that mostly female pundits reported on this surreal hijacking of 14th amendment rights with the calm of the safe and privileged, so that it was framed as a righteous discussion – the ladies’ morality can’t be offended by his right to make his own decisions. What to do? Huh. It’s a real toss up.

It was also embarrassingly evident during the ACA “glitch” hysteria that gripped the nation’s mostly male media figures, most of whom have always had access to healthcare and hence can afford to be so annoyed by a glitch that they would reject access to healthcare over it.

Sec. Clinton took a risk coming out with the truth. She knows she will be attacked, as when Sarah Palin accused Clinton of being a “whiner” for addressing how women were treated culturally and by the media. But one of the reasons why we seek more diversity in representation and media coverage is so that we get differing viewpoints, instead of a narrative skewed for the establishment/patriarchy. Hence Clinton’s criticism is refreshing.

Hillary Clinton has devoted part of her life to bettering the lives of women and girls around the world. If she runs for President in 2016, it will be much more than historic just because of her gender. It will be historic because she will continue to speak honestly and courageously about issues that impact women and girls.

Thick skin, a great sense of humor, and a good support system? Great advice for all people who want a career in the public eye. If you’re a “minority”, you’re going to need even thicker skin, because the established elite never welcome anyone questioning/threatening their privilege, so they’re not going to make it easy on you.

Hillary Clinton Courageously Takes On the Media For Propagating Sexism was written by Sarah Jones for PoliticusUSA.
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