Men are rarely accused of seeming unemotional or encouraged to smile more, but many women encounter this criticism. Hillary Clinton shared an anecdote with the popular Humans of New York Facebook page that perfectly encapsulates this issue. She said how when she was one of the few women taking a law school admissions test, the men in the room began to shout comments like "You don't need to be here" and "There's plenty else you can do."
“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women...Posted by Humans of New York on Thursday, September 8, 2016
The presidential nominee explained that she couldn't respond or get distracted and how similar instances throughout her life taught her to control her emotions. "And that's a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don't want to seem 'walled off,'" she told Humans of New York. "And sometimes I think I come across more in the 'walled off' arena."
Clinton has been accused of seeming cold, unfriendly, and emotionless throughout her time in the spotlight. She addressed this by saying, "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."
The photo generated many positive comments, including a popular one from a woman who wrote, "Women all over the world know this as fact, all too much. Be quiet, but not too quiet. Be smart, but not too smart...it goes on and on." Jenkins's comment reflects how women are frequently held to a double standard and expected to behave a certain way; we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.
In a second photo posted by Humans of New York, Clinton recounted how she "can't be quite so passionate" while giving speeches out of concern she will seem "too loud" or "too shrill." She also pointed out why it's harder for women to present themselves to the public. "You have to communicate in a way that people say: 'OK, I get her.' And that can be more difficult for a woman," she said. "Because who are your models? If you want to run for the Senate, or run for the Presidency, most of your role models are going to be men. And what works for them won't work for you. Women are seen through a different lens."
“I’m not Barack Obama. I’m not Bill Clinton. Both of them carry themselves with a naturalness that is very appealing...Posted by Humans of New York on Thursday, September 8, 2016
This idea that women are scrutinized differently is especially true in the workplace, where female drive can be misconstrued as being too cold or aggressive. Clinton is a prime example — and in many ways, it's what makes her nomination so historic.