How sexism has driven the US election


As the American public choose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton for their next president, reporter Prudence Wade looks at the role of gender in the election. 

Ladies and gentleman, the glass ceiling is officially still intact. Hillary Clinton, the infinitely more qualified candidate for the presidency of the United States, has lost to a reality TV star with no political experience whatsoever.

Perhaps the most terrifying thing is that exit polls show that 66% of women voted for Trump in spite of his overt misogyny.

How did it all go so wrong? That will perhaps remain an infuriatingly complex mystery, but here's a closer look into how this has been the most misogynist election we've ever seen. Gender has never been so key to how two candidates have been judged, and it's proved to be particularly damaging.

Sadness at the election result
(Ted S. Warren/AP)

Donald Trump and women

Trump has been overt and unapologetic in his sexism throughout both his career and campaign. There are almost too many examples to count, which is why Hillary's video sums it up so well.

Trump, a man who was taped saying that he was able to make unwanted sexual advances on women just because he was famous. Trump, a man who has been accused by sexual assault by multiple women - but this still didn't stop him from reaching the White House.

Trump appealed to the disillusioned masses, and the fact that his hateful misogyny was accepted by the public is incredibly worrying. No wonder some American women aren't feeling safe in their own country, or like their rights will be protected during Trump's time in office.

The treatment of Clinton

2008 was an historic year when America embraced a black president, but 2016 America has proved that it just isn't ready for more progress in the form of a female leader. The way Clinton has been treated by both the media and general public has been nothing short of disgusting.

If Clinton was a man, would she have won? Probably. Instead, people turned their attention away from topics relevant to her candidacy, focusing more on the fact that she was a woman - and how this would get in the way of her doing the job.

There's a painfully, darkly funny episode of Broad City where one of the main characters, Ilana, starts working at Clinton's campaign headquarters.

Her boss tells them some of the commonly asked questions when cold-calling, and they include "No, Hillary does not cry at the office"; "Yes, Hillary can read a map"; "No, Hillary is not a witch."

Funny, but also a pretty poignant observation on the stereotypes that women are still subjected to - even women like Clinton, who has achieved so much during her career.

Unequal expectations

Trump and Clinton just weren't treated in the same way during their campaigns, and that is due to outright sexism. Clinton was held to an impossible standard of how she should be, rather than being compared to her opponent.

I'm not saying that Clinton was a perfect candidate or politician by any stretch of the imagination. Of course she has her downsides and faults. But the fact of the matter is: if she was directly compared to Trump, it would have become impossibly clear that she has had many years relevant experience, and he had zero. It's as simple as that.

When it was highly likely that Clinton was going to run for president in 2014, Bill O'Reilly asked on his Fox News show: "There's got to be some downside to have a woman president, right? Something - something that may not fit with that office, correct?"

This attitude, straight out of the stone age, has unfortunately dogged Clinton's entire campaign.


Trump and Clinton
(Mark Ralston/AP)

When it comes down to it, female politicians have to be likeable, and this is certainly not a burden that is placed on their male counterparts. Trump can call a woman "Miss Piggy" but it has no affect on his candidacy. Boys will be boys, eh?

Talk show host Joy Behar asked Clinton this year why people don't find her "trustworthy," or why they "don't like you for some reason." Was Trump asked the same question? Nope - because it wasn't seen as relevant to his campaign.

It's a simplification, but entrenched sexism means that people hoist unfair expectations on women to be soft and maternal, whilst men can be as bullish as they like. Exhibit A: Donald Trump.

Is Clinton the most likeable person out there? Probably not. But does that affect her ability to get the job done? Absolutely not.

Trump wins

These are some of the major areas in which this election has proved itself to be horrifyingly sexist. We can only hope that the result won't deter girls from thinking that it is in fact possible to be president of the USA.

America is normally front of the pack, but the country's unwillingness to elect a female leader shows how worryingly backwards it is.