Are sexist double standards hurting Hillary Clinton? Dana Milbank of The Washington Post seems to think so.
“Much of Hillary Clinton’s difficulty in this campaign stems from a single, unalterable fact: She is a woman,” he writes.
He discerns a “more pervasive and far subtler — unconscious, even” attitude to Mrs Clinton than mere misogyny.
One of the reasons she’s said not to be able to connect, unable to inspire, is that any forcefulness comes across as shrill. As being shouty. Something, says Mr Milbank, commentators rarely complain about with male candidates.
He goes on to quote Jay Newton-Small of TIME magazine: “It’s very hard for a woman to telegraph passion. When Bernie yells, it shows his dedication to the cause. When she (Mrs Clinton) yells, it’s interpreted in a very different way: She’s yelling at you.”
This might sound like politically correct claptrap but let’s just think about it for a moment.
Is it true that we have different expectations of female politicians?
Are people put off if a woman wanting to lead her country comes across as anything other than soothing, a good homemaker, the ultimate resolver of differences? Do we see them as unappealing specimens of their sex? Too mannish?
Yes, says Ms Newton-Small, whose book ‘Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works’ tackles some of these issues. Mr Milbank quotes her as follows: “When women raise their voices, people tend to get their hackles up. People I talk to at Clinton events put her in a maternal role: Why is she screaming at me? Am I in trouble?”
This has a terrible ring of truth.