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Sexism Against Clinton: ‘Sharp Reality’ in Media

New York—“We always tell our daughters you can do anything—but I think the sharp reality was portrayed in Hillary’s race,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D.-N.Y.) said at a Lifetime Television-sponsored event Monday, referring to “a big undercurrent of sexism, misogyny and stereotyping” against Hillary Clinton during her campaign for president.

Politics and feminism were the topics at the event, a panel discussion with Maloney; Martha Burk, who led an unsuccessful campaign five years ago to force the Augusta National Golf Club (site of the Master’s tournament) to admit women, and Rep. Kay Granger (R.-Texas). Talk frequently circled back to Sen. Clinton’s campaign, and the general question of when a woman might get elected president.

“I think we will have a woman president in my lifetime,” Granger said.

Maloney said that even though Clinton, a New York Democrat, lost the primary campaign to Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.)—and despite what Burk said were sexist comments that would have caused a huge outrage had they been “racial slurs”—the Clinton campaign makes it more likely a woman will be elected commander in chief.

“I think she lifted up the self esteem of women across the country, across the world,” Maloney said. Clinton raised $190 million in the primary race and got 18 million votes, she said. “I think she helped all of us. I think she’d be an incredibly important pick for vice president.”

Burk said the sexist overtones—she cited a November 2007 campaign event in which a questioner of Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) called Clinton “the bitch” and McCain didn’t object to the term in his response—even had a potentially positive side effect. “I do think it raised some consciousness,” she said. “I think it was a wake-up call for a lot of women to say ‘Gee, I had no idea there was that much blatant misogyny out there.’ And that not only the media moguls but the American public tolerated it.”

Maloney said terms such as “castrating” were used against Clinton and said it was now much more likely that blogs such as Media Matters will point out when sexist statements are made against politicians.

Granger said it was important for there to be a woman as president and a woman as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“For those of us who serve in politics, you want to see other women there to encourage you to run,” she said, adding that she was surprised that 12 years after she first went to Congress she remains the only female representing Texas in the House.

The evening event—co-sponsored by Redbook magazine and held at the Hearst Tower in midtown Manhattan—was billed as a book party, and attendees received copies of the three women’s current books. It was also tied in with Redbook and Lifetime’s Every Woman Counts public-affairs campaign. ABC News’s Lynn Sherr asked the questions.

Kent Gibbons
Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.