“I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional”
Hillary Clinton is only a few short weeks away from potentially becoming the leader of the free world. She went to law school at Yale, then went on to serve in the United States Senate and as the Secretary of State. Yet to many, the only thing that matters is that she seems cold, distant, and unlikable.
Clinton may not be the type of woman to “stay home and bake cookies,” but—as she shared with Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York in an update released today—that’s because like many women in the workforce today, Clinton felt she had to decide between being likeable and being successful.
“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women in the room. I was feeling nervous. I was a senior in college. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do,” Clinton said. “And while we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do.’ It turned into a real ‘pile on.’ One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I'll die.’ And they weren’t kidding around.”
In that moment, Clinton experienced the double standard that young girls still face today. That we—as 50 percent of the global population—don’t deserve a literal seat at the table as much as a man does.
“I couldn’t afford to get distracted because I didn’t want to mess up the test. So I just kept looking down, hoping that the proctor would walk in the room. I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk,” Clinton added.
While this event happened several decades ago, Clinton still faces the same type of likability scrutiny today. Following Wednesday’s town hall with Donald Trump, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus criticized the Democratic presidential nominee for not smiling enough and called her “angry and defensive.”
Clinton quickly replied to the sexist tweet, telling The New York Times, “I had a very short window of time in that event last night to convey the seriousness with which I would approach the issues that concern our country.” Clinton additionally tweeted,
“Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’ And sometimes I think I come across more in the ‘walled off’ arena,” Clinton says. “And if I create that perception, then I take responsibility. I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that.”