Hillary Clinton’s speech and issues related to sexism

The CBS Early Show highlighted a clip from Hillary Clinton’s speech when she bowed out of the presidential nomination race and they highlighted commentary from Pat Schroeder and Ariana Huffington, most notably talking about the sexism that was inherent in media representations of the campaign, and often absent in dialogue about it. As Pat Schroeder pointed out in this piece, ""There’s a tremendous amount of sexism still out there, and society simply doesn’t deal with sexism as it does, say, with racism and anti-Semitism."

This is an important point and one that I have found difficult to talk to some people about throughout the process – in particularly, some who readily saw the race issues that have been abundant in the campaign but rarely the sexist ones. And those women who recognized and were bothered by the sexist comments and portrayals of Hillary, and who also felt like talking with others about them was useless, or that some people "didn’t get" the sexist messages behind the Hillary Clinton nutracker or the various Hillary/witch portrayals (something alluded to on the Early Show – see here for just one reference). 

For those who follow history, politics, civil rights issues or gender issues, you may be familiar with the well-documented notion that while women have often played prominent roles in US civil rights or gay rights movements (see here for another reference), they have rarely found similar support from men in their own pushes for rights, such as with the Equal Rights Amendment.

What does this have to do with sex? Everything. Many sex and relationship issues have their roots in the way that women and men handle power – and whether someone is in an other-sex (man-woman) relationship or a same-sex relationship, we often bring power dynamics to the table, including power dynamics that have their root in the larger society.

Obama delivered a compelling speech related to race, once he was sort of forced to face these issues head-on after the Rev. Wright issues, and I think this country is overdue not only for continued conversations around race, but also for some deep conversations related to sex and gender.

I hope that you will take a moment to watch the clip from the Early Show here and to consider ways in which we can have a more open dialogue about sex and gender issues. Also, of course, I’d encourage you to consider how issues of gender play out in your own life:


About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.