Just as she had all evening, Clinton remained composed and aggressive. Throughout the debate, she had spoken about her record as a senator and her work as a lawyer, talked about women’s rights, and explained her view of the crisis in Syria. Then she made a passing joke about Trump not paying his taxes, and was essentially called a bitch by the man who, over the past few weeks, has been accused of sexually assaulting multiple women.
Of course, Clinton is no stranger to having her behavior scrutinized. Throughout her campaign, pundits have criticized her likability, her smile, and the tone of her voice — commentary her male opponents don’t often face. She has been subjected to this sort of criticism for her entire political career, being asked sexist questions for decades in interviews and debates.
Back in 2008, when Clinton first ran for president, writers at Saturday Night Light actually devoted a portion of the show’s regular Weekend Update segment — then hosted by Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, with Tina Fey making a special appearance — to the unfair scrutiny Clinton has received.
"What bothers me the most is when people say Hillary Clinton is a bitch," Fey deadpans. "Yeah, she is. And so am I. And so is this one [pointing at Poehler]. You know what? Bitches get stuff done."
Fey continues, explaining how "bitches" — like the relentless, mean nuns in schools, for example — make all of us better.
"What I’m saying is that it’s not too late Texas and Ohio, get on board. Bitch is the new black!"
The sketch is still hilarious and relevant today. (Coincidentally, Ohio is a swing state, and in Texas, the polling margin between Trump and Clinton supporters is closer than the margin between Romney and Obama in 2012.)
It’s not at all fair for Clinton to be labeled a bitch, a nasty woman, or any other derogatory gendered term just for doing her job. But it’s also somewhat heartening to see her supporters lean into those insults and turn them into an empowering feminist rallying cry.