Even A Female Presidential Candidate Has To Explain Why She Doesn't Smile More

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

Humans of New York shares two photos of Hillary Clinton, and she attempts to explain the hurdles of sexism

If you’re a working woman, there’s always an elephant in the room. It’s a giant, looming beast called “sexism” ready to make you second guess your every move and analyze your every, professional response. We all deal with it on different levels, because we have to.

Are you smiling enough? Are you smiling too much? Are you too loud? Are you coming across as meek? Are you remembering to keep all the right words out of your vocabulary?

In two separate Humans of New York posts yesterday, Hillary attempts to explain the aspects of her personality that are dissected in a way no male candidates would be. Women everywhere are nodding our heads, because we’ve been there. Obviously not in the exact way — but her words are so relatable.

“I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions,” she says. “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.’”

You don’t want to seem “walled off.” You can make it to the nomination for President of the United States, but as a woman, you’ll still have to explain why you don’t smile more. Excuse me while I toss my computer out the window.

“You have to communicate in a way that people say: ‘OK, 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,” Clinton says. “Women are seen through a different lens.”

Truer words were never spoken. What is seen as “confidence” in your male co-workers is seen as “pushiness” in you. They’re described as “serious.” You’re “unemotional.” They’re “passionate.” You’re “shrill.” They’re “adept.” You’re a “know-it-all.” It’s absolutely exhausting to field all of the conscious and subconscious sexism that women are presented with daily in most workplaces. Now imagine what it must be like for a female presidential candidate.

“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,” Clinton explains. “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.’”

President of the United States is a role literally no woman has filled before. There are no models. No one to emulate. No movements to dissect. No mistakes to analyze. It’s unchartered territory.

You don’t have to love Hillary to realize and appreciate all that she’s up against. You don’t even have to like her. But as a woman, please — women everywhere are begging you: don’t say she doesn’t smile enough, or that’s she’s unemotional, or walled off, or shrill. Don’t feed into the sexist rhetoric that surrounds her.

It’s just not helping any of us.

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