The real Hillary problem

Hillary Clinton's problem isn't her image as a female presidential candidate, it's the sexist perception that others have of it

Hillary Clinton recently announced she was running for president. With the news came a fresh round of sexism lobbed at the former first lady, senator and secretary of state.

While there's plenty of legitimate fodder for criticism and debate when it comes to Clinton, little of it seems to come without an accompanying whiff of old-fashioned chauvinism.

The latest arrived via The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, who opined in an April 12 column titled “Granny Get Your Gun” that “the most famous woman on the planet has a confounding problem. She can't figure out how to campaign as a woman.”

Actually that's not Clinton's problem, it's Dowd's.

Sure, Clinton has struggled with image—which candidate hasn't?—but it's ludicrous to suggest that during her 2008 bid, “Hillary scrubbed out [her] femininity” in attempt to win.

This time around, Dowd says, the candidate will face an even tougher time. After all, Clinton's not just saddled by previous missteps, she's also now a grandmother. Now, she must bridge the divide between politics and her age and gender.

“Isn't there a more authentic way for Hillary to campaign as a woman … something between Macho Man and Humble Granny?” Dowd asked.

Clinton isn't the only woman to face sexist political scrutiny, of course. If former Hewlett-Packard head Carly Fiorina makes good on a bid for the Republican ticket, she'll undoubtedly also endure intense examination over her femininity, looks, emotional state, et al.

Whether Fiorina, Clinton or any other female candidate is in possession of a vagina should never be a political consideration. When an accomplished journalist makes it a case, however (and without irony, it should be noted), then unfortunately it's clear such treatment is here for the long haul.