Women Are Having A Very Strong Reaction To Hillary Clinton’s ‘Humans Of New York’ Photo
"I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions."
After surviving 18 months of campaigning and approximately 454,943,243 complaints that she doesn’t smile enough, Hillary Clinton has addressed what many see as her “cold or unemotional” demeanour in a post for Humans of New York. Recounting a story from her days in college, she details the reasons she’s often steeled herself against criticism and been regarded as “walled off” as a result.
“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard,” she wrote. “My friend and I were some of the only women in the room. I was feeling nervous. I was a senior in college. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do. And while we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do’. It turned into a real ‘pile on’. One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I’ll die.’
“They weren’t kidding around. It was intense. It got very personal. But I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t afford to get distracted because I didn’t want to mess up the test … I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off’. And sometimes I think I come across more in the ‘walled off’ arena.”
“If I create that perception, then I take responsibility. I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that.”
Since being posted this morning, the post has received more than 570,000 likes and 135,000 shares, but the most interesting response has been in the comments. Here, thousands have been supporting her statement and sharing frustrations with similar expectations or double standards often placed on women’s behaviour from their own experiences.
“Smile and you’re a flirt, don’t smile and you’re cold,” one comment reads. “Be assertive, but don’t be pushy,” reads another. “I’m not a Hillary lover. Like, at all,” one woman says. “But remove her face from this picture and every woman would admit to feeling this way and living similar experiences. Large or small, it’s the truth.”
A few hours later, HONY posted a second image of Hillary — this time she is smiling.
“I’m not Barack Obama. I’m not Bill Clinton,” the accompanying statement reads. “Both of them carry themselves with a naturalness that is very appealing to audiences. But I’m married to one and I’ve worked for the other, so I know how hard they work at being natural. It’s not something they just dial in. They work and they practice what they’re going to say. It’s not that they’re trying to be somebody else. But it’s hard work to present yourself in the best possible way. You have to communicate in a way that people say: ‘Okay, I get her.’ And that can be more difficult for a woman.
“Because, who are your models? If you want to run for the Senate, or run for the Presidency, most of your role models are going to be men. And what works for them won’t work for you. Women are seen through a different lens. It’s not bad. It’s just a fact.
“It’s really quite funny. I’ll go to these events and there will be men speaking before me, and they’ll be pounding the message, and screaming about how we need to win the election. And people will love it. And I want to do the same thing. Because I care about this stuff. But I’ve learned that I can’t be quite so passionate in my presentation. I love to wave my arms, but apparently that’s a little bit scary to people. And I can’t yell too much. It comes across as ‘too loud’ or ‘too shrill’ or ‘too this’ or ‘too that.’ Which is funny, because I’m always convinced that the people in the front row are loving it.”
Clinton’s comments are hardly revolutionary, but that’s just the point. Regardless of her privileges and problems, she is one of many, many women out there who’s had to “hang tough” in a system which was designed exclusively for men. It’s probably time people stopped making it tougher.
— Sean Kelly (@mrseankelly) September 9, 2016