Hillary Clinton Says Female Candidates Face the Same Sexist Language She Heard in 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton is no stranger to being the lone woman in her class. The first lady turned senator cut a solitary figure during the 2016 Democratic debates. But this year the Democratic field includes a handful of female hopefuls—a development that Clinton welcomed.

"I think it is better that there are more than one, because then people can see that women are just as varied as men," Clinton told Newsweek Wednesday. "We have different styles, and approaches and ideas."

Still, Clinton said the conversation about the 2020 women candidates, overall, was sadly familiar.

"They are running into the same kind of, I guess I'd say, language used by people on the campaign, people in the media," she said. "But it's too soon to tell, so we're just going to have to wait and see how it all turns out."

Speaking to Newsweek ahead of her appearance with former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in London, Clinton reiterated her previous comments about the cultural obstacles she battled during the 2016 election cycle.

In a 2018 appearance at Georgetown University, Clinton commented: "Any of you who've read my book about 'What Happened' know that I think misogyny and sexism was part of that campaign—it was one of the contributing factors," Fox News reported at the time. "Some of it was old-fashioned sexism and the refusal to accept the equality of women, and certainly the equality of women's leadership."

And in her Wednesday appearance at King's College, London, Clinton and Gillard discussed the challenges facing women in politics—with Clinton insisting that even knowing what she knew now about the pitfalls, she would do it all again.

"We still face a lot of these deeply embedded attitudes that are then internalized by girls and women," Clinton told Gillard, "which often act as artificial barriers for a lot of women's aspirations and the larger society's expectations."

Clinton said she would tell a younger version of herself: "Knowing what I know now, I would say forge the same path, just recognize that there are boulders and sinkholes and all kinds of challenges along the way."

The conversation didn't just focus on women—with one man in particular coming in for some snark. Hinting at President Donald Trump, Gillard asked Clinton: "I was just wondering... can you think of a time when a super-smart woman perhaps lost out to a man who was less intelligent?" as the audience laughed.

"I would never say that intelligence is everything—but it is something," Clinton replied.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton in D.C., April 2019. She told Newsweek that some things have improved for women presidential candidates—and some things remain, sadly, the same. Paul Morigi/Getty