She still won’t confirm whether she’s running for the US presidential election in 2016 but Hillary Clinton is resolute about this; there is no place for sexism in politics.
In her only Australian interview following the recent launch of her book, with 730‘s Sarah Ferguson, Clinton elaborated on her comments about the “outrageous sexism” that was directed at Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard.
In Hard Choices Clinton writes about the “unfortunate reality that women in public life still face an unfair double standard”. Last night she wouldn’t go so far as to point fingers at any one political opponent but she said that kind of behaviour “shouldn’t be tolerated in any country”, and criticised the way Gillard’s political opposition “characterised her” in a “demeaning” way.
When asked by Ferguson if she was referring to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, she said that was for Australia to judge. She said it was “regrettable” that double standards had made their way into the political debate.
“I don’t have a problem with anybody – man or woman – contesting anyone’s position, anyone’s policy, taking a person to account. But doing so in a way that I thought depersonalised the very personal, that demeaned, just didn’t seem to fit the Australia that I have come to know. As a woman and as someone who knows that double standards still exist, I thought it was regrettable that that was injected into Australian political debate.”
Referring to Gillard’s misogyny speech, which was directed at then-opposition leader Abbott, Clinton said it was “striking” and the most important part was that she gave the speech.
“The speech that [then] prime minister Gillard gave about misogyny was very striking to me, because she did go chapter and verse – and again this is not about whether you approve of, voted for, or had any affinity with the positions she put forward. Often times when women are treated in a sexist way, when comments are made – whether it be about their appearance, their hair, their body, their marital status, whatever it might be – you just swallow it,” she said.
“You go on, you try not to let it bother you, maybe you deflect with humour, all of which are good tactics. But she just went right at it, and I respected that. I thought it was an important statement from a woman leader to make clear that this was behaviour that should not be tolerated.”
Clinton told 7.30 the sexism she saw and experienced while campaigning during the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination was “very much part of our culture … it just was taken for granted” but said there was no place for sexism in politics — anywhere.
“I just don’t think there is a place for sexism in our politics. I think we need to face up to it, and we’ve made progress. I certainly applaud the progress we’ve made in my own country and I assume the same in Australia. But it just shouldn’t be tolerated. And whether it takes a joke or a laugh or a direct confrontation to really put up a hand, say, ‘Don’t cross this line. You can engage in debate with me, you can say you don’t want to elect me, you can say that I’m wrong on X, Y or Z, but don’t inject some kind of personal insult, a rude remark about characteristics that are related to my gender”.
“My goodness, men come in all sizes and shapes, so do women, and it’s about time we saw that for what it is – just human nature and reality.”