The former secretary of state and Democratic frontrunner says she still encounters sexism on the campaign trail — even on the rope line.
Hillary Clinton says while sexism on the campaign trail is not as severe as it was in 2008 when she first ran for president, it still lingers — even in her encounters with would-be supporters.
In a New York magazine cover profile published this week, Clinton said she encounters people on rope lines who tell her, “I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.”
“I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me,” Clinton told the magazine’s Rebecca Traister. “Unpacking this, understanding it, is for writers like you. I’m just trying to cope with it. Deal with it. Live through it.”
But she did do a little “unpacking.”
The former first lady was asked why she thinks women’s ambition is often regarded as “dangerous.”
“[It’s] a fear that ambition will crowd out everything else — relationships, marriage, children, family, homemaking, all the other parts [of life] that are important to me and important to most women I know,” Clinton said. “We’re so accustomed to think of women’s ambition being made manifest in ways that we don’t approve of, or that we find off-putting.”
She also said that men fear ambitious women like her.
“I think it’s the competition,” Clinton said. “Like, if you do this, there won’t be room for some of us, and that’s not fair.”
Clinton then recalled the time she and a friend from the all-women’s Wellesley College took the LSAT law school aptitude test at Harvard University:
“We were in this huge, cavernous room,” she said. “And hundreds of people were taking this test, and there weren’t many women there. This friend and I were waiting for the test to begin, and the young men around us were like, ‘What do you think [you’re] doing? How dare you take a spot from one of us?’ It was just a relentless harangue. … I remember one young man said, ‘If you get into law school and I don’t, and I have to go to Vietnam and get killed, it’s your fault.’”
Earlier in the interview, Clinton recounted the story of what convinced her to run for public office in 1998:
At an event for women athletes called “Dare to Compete,” a teenage basketball captain, Sofia Totti, said to her, “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton, dare to compete.” The exhortation gave her pause. “It was like, ‘Am I just scared to do this? Is that really what it comes down to?’”
It’s not the first time Clinton has addressed sexism in the campaign.
In February, two of Clinton’s prominent female supporters — former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and feminist writer Gloria Steinem — criticized young women for backing her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders.
“People are talking about revolution,“ Albright said while introducing Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire. “What kind of a revolution would it be to have the first woman president of the United States? … Young women, you have to help. Hillary Clinton will always be there for you. And just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
A day later, Clinton defended Albright’s assertion.
“I think it was a lighthearted but very pointed remark,” Clinton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “She believes it firmly, in part, because she knows what a struggle it has been. And she understands the struggle is not over.”
And in April, Donald Trump accused Clinton of playing “the woman card” after she promised that if elected, half of her cabinet would be women.
“The only thing she’s got is the woman card,” the presumptive Republican nominee said in a “Fox & Friends” interview. “That’s all she’s got, and it is pandering. It’s a weak card in her hands. In another person’s hands it could be a powerful card. I’d love to see a woman president, but she’s the wrong person.”
Clinton fired back. “The other day, Mr. Trump accused me, of playing the, quote, ‘woman card,’” she said at a rally in Philadelphia. “Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”