“AS A WOMAN IN POLITICS,
IT’S REALLY HARD TO FIND THE
RIGHT BALANCE BETWEEN
SHOWING YOUR PASSION AND
YOUR INTENSE FEELINGS, AND
NOT CROSSING THAT LINE
WHERE YOU’RE THE ‘ANGRY
WOMAN’ THAT NOBODY
WANTS TO HEAR FROM.”
– HILLARY CLINTON
As the first female candidate to make it so far, she found that
sexism and misogyny were running themes – themes that her
male opponent used to his advantage, she said.
During many debates, observers stated that Republican candi-date
(and current president) Donald Trump seemed to be trying
to intimidate or bully her, Clinton said. In one particular high-profile
debate, he followed her around the stage, getting right in
her space, she felt. She is often asked – why didn’t she just tell him
to back off?
“I was on a stage in front of 60, 70 million people watching,
and having my opponent stalking me, and making faces, and
generally drawing attention towards himself, in contrast to what
we were supposed to be talking about… like better jobs, or giv-ing
people better futures by making college affordable,” she said.
“So I had prepared for the debate, and I suspected he might try to
do something like that. So we actually practiced it… I worked at
keeping my composure, because I kind of think you want a presi-dent
who is composed.”
But it’s one thing to practice it – it’s something else to be there
in the real moment, she said.
“So my mind was going, ‘calm, composed’ versus whipping
around and saying, ‘You like to intimidate women, you’re not go-ing
to intimidate me – back up.’
“All told, it might have been more satisfying to do that, but I’m
not sure it would be the best strategy.”
But again, a lot of it goes back to what we have historically seen,
“I mean, I can’t imagine any of the men I know who’ve been
president whirling around and saying that to another man – but
then, I can’t imagine a man stalking another male candidate. So it’s
kind of a no-win situation.”
It’s been claimed that sexism and misogyny played a significant
role in the election of 2016, and Clinton feels that is not an un-fair
“Voters make up their minds of the basis of a full range of things
that matter to them. And it’s just a fact that we have never had a
woman president. So the idea of a woman president really runs up
against the perceived and experienced idea in our country about
what a president looks like,” she said. “But I think in the past, I was
a bit reluctant to talk about it because I worried it made me
sound a bit whiny. The coverage that a woman gets is often focused
on all kinds of things like her hair… and other matters like that,”
she said, gesturing toward her red pantsuit.
“It’s part of the landscape.”
Seeing male politicians attacking women for their appearance is
such an exhibit A of the prevalence of sexism and misogyny, she
said, that it’s quite disconcerting.
“First, it’s not just in politics. It is in business – right now we’re
having a lot of debates in Silicon Valley, because a lot of women
complain about being harassed, being underpaid – all kinds of sit-uations,”
she said. “But we’ve made a lot of progress, so we have to
hold those two ideas in our heads at the same time.”
According to Catalyst Canada data, the percentage of women in
senior roles is slowly growing worldwide, but at this pace we won’t
reach parity for decades.
Women held under a quarter (24 per cent) of senior roles across
the world in 2016 – an increase of only three per cent from 2011,
Catalyst found. One third (33 per cent) of global businesses had
no women in senior management roles, a number which has not
changed since 2011.
At this rate of change, women will not reach parity with men
until 2060, Catalyst reports.
We have made progress, and many doors have been opened to
women that previously were closed. But at the same time, we are
experiencing a kind of blowback in regards to this progress, said
“I think it’s important that we keep talking about this, because
maybe by talking about it, we can educate everyone – men and
women – that some of the comments that are made, some of the
treatment women receive, is not just about one woman – it’s more
general than that,” she said.
“There’s a lot of evidence that this blowback – this public at-tempt
to quiet women, to create a double standard right before our
very eyes – is much in vogue because of this current administra-tion
that is rolling back rules and regulations to protect women’s
rights to equal pay among other things,” said Clinton.
We’ve seen many women in public forums silenced or spoken
over when it comes to the issues – but, to borrow a phrase, “never-theless,
they persisted,” said Clinton.
This is all part of a broader set of issues about how young wom-en
see themselves and see their futures, said Clinton.
“And we have the imposing ceilings, glass or otherwise on the
dreams of young women.”
The only way we’re going to get sexism out of politics is to get
more women into politics, Clinton said.
Perhaps no one said it better than Françoise Giroud, the late
journalist and writer – a quote that made Clinton laugh heartily.
“Women will achieve parity the day a notoriously incompetent
woman is appointed to a post of great responsibility.” n
Liz Bernier is a communications specialist with the Human
Resources Professionals Association.
40 ❚ JANUARY 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL