Benghazi Hearings: Now With a Dose of Sexism!

Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Prague


I don’t know why I’m still surprised by the sexism that continues to exist at media outlets today, especially when it comes to anything Hillary Clinton does or says. Even with analysts and talking heads proclaiming that she is the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and that she is more beloved by Americans than at any point in her life, some “news” people still can’t quite help themselves if there’s an opportunity to get in a little dig at the current Secretary of State.

As Clinton was testifying at the hearings about the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya last year, she understandably became a bit emotional when talking about the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. After more than two hours of testifying before some not-so-friendly senators, those guys at CNN couldn’t help but focus on how “emotional” she was and that her less-than-stoic performance was clearly because she was still suffering from “exhaustion.”

She got emotional about having to call the families of those who died. She choked up as she recalled when the bodies of those murdered in Libya were returned to American soil. But the few emotions she displayed weren’t because she’s human, but because she’s tired and worn out? Funny, I don’t remember any cable TV talking heads saying anything similar about President Obama when he displayed his emotions as he talked about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Wait, what did the media say about him? Oh, now I remember — he was taking the events  seriously and “mourning” those deaths.  He spoke “movingly through his “overwhelming grief.”

Clearly, Hillary was perceiving things correctly during her 2008 presidential campaign when she wondered whether she had to keep up a tough “yes I am strong enough to be Commander in Chief” exterior, because some of us haven’t gotten past what’s been ingrained in us societally — that if a man cries, it’s an honest show of emotion. If a woman even chokes up, she is a weak little girl who can’t be trusted in a position of power.

There really isn’t a whole lot more to say on this before I move to the banging my head on my desk stage. It’s the same song, 837th verse when it comes to this type of sexism in the media. It’s not blatant and it’s easy enough for the perpetrators to explain it away when confronted. But we know it’s there, in that certain tone of voice, the small gestures, and the looks that pass between male commentators on TV that tell the tale.

Clearly, Hillary Clinton can take care of herself, as evidenced in the Senate Benghazi hearings, though I have to take exception with the — yes, sexist — headline for this video, “Hillary Clinton Erupts at Ron Johnson Over Benghazi Attack”:

I would hardly call that “erupting.” I’d say it was more like speaking forcefully and with conviction while not backing down to a bully. Oh, wait — that’s how it would be described if it had been a man. And not to be outdone, one Atlanta Journal Constitution headline refers to Clinton in her testimony as “feisty.”

As long as the male cable TV power brokers continue to speak about powerful women in this way, the rest of us are held down and kept in “our place.”  Of course, it’s been clear for many years that Hillary has a special place when it comes to media disdain. If she hadn’t teared up or become emotional during her Benghazi testimony to the Senate, she would have been called a stone cold, disrespectful be-yotch, or worse.  But  finding something sexist to say about Hillary Clinton is always easier than actual, thoughtful analysis of the real news.

 Image via U.S. State Department website

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9 Responses to “Benghazi Hearings: Now With a Dose of Sexism!”

  1. Diana Says:

    And if she hadn’t gotten choked up she’d be called a cold-hearted bitch. Welcome the wonderful world of having a vagina.

  2. Marti J. Sladek Says:

    Not to mention, many women, myself included, cry when we are angry. And she had every reason to be really pissed off at this hearing.I was waiting for her to say,”Can we stop all this political nonsense and let me get back to doing my GD job?”

  3. Liz @ The Six Year Itch Says:

    I was swamped with deadlines (and will be tonight) so I haven’t had a chance to watch any of the hearings. But from your analysis, how quickly the last 4 years vanish and she becomes this ball-breaking, yet emotional woman who can’t keep the period she most definitely doesn’t have anymore from clouding her judgement.

  4. Tom M Says:

    Did her “tough enough to be CINC” in 2008 NECESSARILY include prior vote of support/authorization for the Iraq invasion? Candidate Obama garnered more of the women Democratic primary voters in 15 states in 2008. Some have argued, and i tend to agree, that while Candidate Clinton was quite strong she lost because she was running a more centrist campaign with her eye on the general election. Yes, there is bias against Clinton (perhaps as much due to perceptions about the “Clinton” brand as due to gender?). But there is also likely to be gender bias in Clinton’s favor is she is a candidate in 2016… BTW Ms. Clinton would be the second oldest person elected to Presidency if she does win in that year. Clinton will be 69+ and Reagan was just under 70.

  5. Gigs Says:

    Excellent article and “AMEN!” @Marti.

    BTW @Tom, even if Mrs. Clinton is the second oldest person elected, she is a female, which life insurance statistics indicate means that she will live longer than a male candidate. :-)

  6. Tom M Says:

    To Gigs — At 69 y.o., Hillary would not be expected to “live longer than a male candidate” as you said. Rather, it would be true if a male and female candidate that are both 69 years old in 2015/16. There is a possiblity. But there have been NO U.S. elections ever where two 69 year olds ran as the “major party candiates.” Besides, I’m pretty sure the two candidates in 2015/16 will be female. The second one will be younger than Ms. Clinton.

  7. Daisy Says:

    Ron Johnson may claim to represent Wisconsin, but the sexist idiot doesn’t represent me. I volunteered on Tammy Baldwin’s campaign, and when Johnson comes up for re-election, I’ll work for his opponent, too.

  8. Emily Says:

    @Daisy, I don’t know if we all have that time on our hands, but that’s a great way to make a difference!

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