National Memo put together a video compiling nearly 40 years of sexist questions asked of Hillary Clinton during interviews and debates.
The result is illuminating, and infuriating. It shows how painfully bad America was at dealing with women in public life even just 20 years ago — and how bad at it we often still are.
“Can a first lady be both popular and opinionated?” asks one 1992 interviewer.
“Do you think the American people are ready yet to have a first lady who has strong opinions and an agenda?” asks Barbara Walters in 1996.
People spend a lot of time demanding that Clinton explain why people don’t like her. Katie Couric in 1993 seems bizarrely fixated on the image of Clinton as Lady Macbeth, and asks her why she’s such a “lightning rod” who so many people see as “threatening.”
This wasn’t just a problem in the ’90s. In one 2008 clip, pundits were arguing that men wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she reminds them of their nagging wives when she speaks. In 2016, Joy Behar asks Clinton why people don’t find her “trustworthy,” or why they “don’t like you for some reason.”
Pundit after pundit, in decade after decade, asks why voters don’t like Clinton. And pundit after pundit answers their own questions without realizing it. Is it possible that people could like a woman who is independent and opinionated? Hang on, people don’t like Hillary Clinton for some reason! What could that reason be? Eh, it’s probably her voice or something.
Taken together, the clips show how sexist microaggressions can become very macro over a lifetime: how all the little things people say or do can make women feel like they’re worth less than men, or that they can only do certain specific things with their lives. And most of all, they show how easy it is for sexist narratives to evolve and perpetuate themselves in subtle ways.