Trump, Sanders, Hillary and Sexism in the 2016 Election

By Peter Daou and Tom Watson

Credit to Bernie Sanders, who speaks the truth about sexism and Hillary Clinton:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Sunday that some detractors dislike former secretary of State Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman. 

Sanders argued that gender drives many of the attacks against his opponent for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I can’t think of many personalities who have been attacked for more reasons than Hillary Clinton,” Sanders told host John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“I don’t know that a man would be treated the same way that Hillary is,” he said. “Some of it is sexist.”


1:  prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially: discrimination against women

2:  behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

Donald Trump has made waves for a disgusting comment he made about Fox News host Megyn Kelly:

"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."

This followed a debate in which Trump was confronted about his previous derogatory remarks about women. Amanda Taub explains:

When Fox News's Megyn Kelly asked Trump a question about his past treatment of women during the first GOP debate, he gave an expert seminar on a subject that every boorish misogynist executive needs to master: how to belittle and dismiss women's discrimination claims and enable a hostile work environment. 

"Mr. Trump," Kelly said, "you've called women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' and 'disgusting animals.' Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks, and you once told a candidate on Celebrity Apprentice that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of someone we should elect as president? And how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the nominee, that you are part of the war on women?" 

Trump's response to Kelly's question was essentially a step-by-step guide on how to dismiss valid complaints about discriminatory behavior in the workplace. It was a two-minute primer on how to get away with sexism.

Trump’s behavior is deplorable, but it is not an isolated problem. The larger 2016 election context is the vile treatment of Hillary Clinton at the hands of the media, political class and commentariat.

Hillary is leading in the polls, which may lead some to overlook the cause and effect of the constant barrage of invective directed against her. But we cannot understand the dynamics of 2016 without a sober view of the daily verbal assault that Hillary endures. As we wrote recently about mainstream media coverage:

The dizzying array of dehumanizing and demeaning terms targeting Hillary in recent weeks (Machiavellian, Lovecraftian, slithering, monstrous, imperious, musty, petulant, paranoid, stale, scornful, regal, devious, deceitful, robotic, abnormal, etc.) is a concrete manifestation of the gender barrier in American politics. It constitutes a “wall of words” blocking her path to the presidency.

The wall of words exists because Hillary Clinton is a woman. And that is the definition of sexism.

More from our friend Jessica Valenti:

When I visit college campuses, young women always ask me how I deal with negativity online – and how they can. The students I speak to increasingly feel like they have to consider, before choosing a career path or posting an opinion in a public forum, whether they can cope with violently sexist responses and a never-ending barrage of misogynistic bullshit. 

If anyone knows the answer to their questions, it’s Hillary Clinton. Her career has long epitomized how misogyny can haunt female politicians ... She has too often been the target of insults based on men’s fear about powerful women – an unenviable position that few can understand. 

26% of young women polled said they had been stalked online and 25% were sexually harassed online. A 2006 study from the University of Maryland showed that internet users with female-sounding usernames were 25 times more likely to receive sexually explicit and threatening messages. 

The online harassment of women is not likely to end anytime soon; neither is the sexism that targets Clinton.

The Internet is flooded with Hillary hate, it has been since the days of squeaky dial-up modems and chat rooms. Twitter, Facebook and other modern social channels are conduits for Hillary-bashers to let loose their repulsive rants. Anonymous trolls, however, are not the only problem. Writing about the still unrepentant New York Times and their dangerously false story about Hillary’s emails, we said:

This behavior from the Times matters to the race for the presidency and Hillary’s quest to break the ultimate gender barrier in American politics. It matters for the crisis of ethics in U.S. media, where one of the most accomplished, popular and powerful women in our history is regularly disparaged and disrespected by major publications. In fact, the terminology used to describe Hillary by the mainstream media often exceeds, in its virulence, the worst language of anonymous Clinton-hating trolls. 

In a piece titled The Vile Language Hurled at Hillary Clinton on Social Media, Tracy Clark-Flory and Leigh Cuen analyze some of the sexist and misogynistic comments directed at Hillary online. Astonishingly and disturbingly, in many instances, the offensive language they write about is less imaginative, less insidious, and less destructive than the flowery and abrasive terms concocted by the mainstream media to disparage Hillary.

Donald Trump may be the center of attention in the summer of 2015, but it is the manic desire to ‘Stop Hillary’ and the roots of that desire that we need to expose and reject.

Chloe Angyal writes:

“Women leaders face higher standards and lower rewards than male leaders,” Catalyst found in its 2007 study The Double Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership. “On top of doing their job, women must prove that they can lead over and over again,” the study found.

Simply put, Clinton is living proof of how sexism and ageism interact: when it comes to leadership positions, women always seem to be held to a higher standard than men, and by the time they’ve accumulated the experience to meet that standard, they’re old enough to be hit with age discrimination. 

It seems fitting to conclude with a Jon Stewart clip, this one from 2014 on the treatment of women in power:


Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.