Hey Hill: Love Your Hair, Now Iron My Shirt

Many Clinton supporters say sexist media coverage hurt her campaign.

ByABC News via logo
May 30, 2008, 12:04 PM

May 30, 2008 — -- In what seems to be the twilight of her campaign, a number of Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters are saying that sexism helped torpedo her bid for president.

It's a sentiment that has been voiced by the Democratic candidate and her husband.

"Nobody told Ted Kennedy he should drop out in 1980. Nobody told Jesse Jackson he should drop out in 1988," former President Bill Clinton said in a May 25 speech. "Nobody told the people who ran against me in 1992 that they had to drop out. This is really interesting. Why are they doing this?"

And in a May 18 interview with WashingtonPost.com, Hillary Clinton herself said "so much of what has occurred that has been very sexist."

Women, especially, are debating the impact of sexism on Clinton's campaign.

Organizations like the National Organization for Women and many female writers and bloggers say Clinton's campaign has brought latent gender bias out of the closet.

They point to a number of examples: Detractors can buy a Hillary Nutcracker with stainless-steel thighs online, or join the Facebook group called Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich.

When two men shouted "Iron my shirts!" at a Clinton campaign rally in New Hampshire, she shrugged it off, saying, "Ah, the remnants of sexism, alive and well."

On the other side, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan calls the sexism charge "sissy, blame-gaming."

The Women's Media Center, which doesn't endorse a specific candidate, has put together a "greatest hits" video called Sexism Sells.

Press reports have frequently focused on Clinton's appearance, from her figure to her hair to her wide array of pantsuits. Many people have pointed out that male candidates don't face the same kind of scrutiny when it comes to their looks.

After Clinton appeared on his show "Hardball With Chris Matthews," Matthews said, "She was calm, she was charming, just to be cosmetic, her hair looked great."

When a particularly unflattering photo of Clinton appeared online and in a number of newspapers, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh asked on his radio show, "Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?"