Women serving in the Senate say Hillary Clinton is being subjected to an unfair, sexist double standard on the campaign trail.
Criticisms of Clinton’s tone of voice have become prominent in recent weeks, stirring strong feelings among Senate Democratic women who say they too have had to battle the stereotype of the shrill female.
“She’s often judged by a double standard,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the dean of the Senate women.
“Many of we women feel that there’s a double standard. What’s being said about Hillary is what women have heard for centuries. You’re too loud, you’re too aggressive, you’re too pushy. Why do you want the vote?”
Senate Democratic women have raised their concerns about the public treatment of Clinton in private conversations with their colleagues, with lawmakers keeping close watch on her primary battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“There are many Senate men that feel the same way. It’s an equal opportunity for frustration. When are we going to start talking about ideas?” Mikulski said.
Female lawmakers were particularly galled by recent statements by Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward, one of the nation’s most respected journalists, characterizing Clinton’s tone as “screaming.”
“She shouts. There’s something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The comment prompted the show’s host, Joe Scarborough, to interject, ”I was watching her and I said to myself, ‘Has nobody told her how the microphone works?’”
The conversation provoked a backlash, mainly from liberal media outlets, but so far neither Woodward nor Scarborough has apologized.
Mikulski, the first woman to ever chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, wasn’t amused.
“I think Woodward ought to stick to judging foreign policy rather than the tone and tenor of women’s voices. His analysis is really dated,” she said.
The New York Times reported that Clinton received additional media training after Woodward aired his critique.
Scarborough tweeted after the interview that calling Woodward sexist “for analyzing a woman’s speaking ability” is itself sexist.
But women who have had long careers in politics disagree. They think the focus on Clinton’s demeanor is indeed sexist.
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