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“Playing the gender card”: Five of the most sexist moments in politics

HIllary Rodham ClintonHIllary Rodham Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.Photograph by Seth Wenig — AP

In last Sunday’s edition, a Daily Mail story described British Labour MP Liz Kendall as a “slinky brunette” who “maintains her lithe figure by jogging 20 miles a week.” As if that wasn’t enough, the writer quizzes Kendall on the cost of her “emerald green suede high heels,” speculates on her weight and points out that she shops at the same stores as the Duchess of Cambridge.

Meanwhile, things were looking only marginally better for female politicians here in the U.S. On Monday, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly said that “the gender card alone isn’t enough,” implying that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign lacks substance.

In honor of what’s turning out to be a banner week for sexism here and across the pond, Fortune takes a look back at the five most sexist moments in recent American and British politics.

“Calm down, dear.”

 

Prime Minister David Cameron famously used this phrase to tell Labour MP Angela Eagle to cool it during a House of Commons exchange. While he tried to pass it off as a popular “humorous remark” at his alma mater Oxford University, Eagle didn’t buy it. “I’ve been patronized by better people than the Prime Minister,” she quipped to the BBC.


“The bangs. The headbands. The hair flip. The paillettes.”

<> on May 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Photograph by Scott Olson — Getty Images

Fortunately for Americans everywhere, US News decided to publish a 2012 article called, “Hillary Clinton’s Long-time Hairstylist Shares Secrets Behind The Diplomat’s Ever-Changing Hair.” Whatever would our nation do without the essential knowledge that “the Secretary of State has grown her hair longer, even putting it up in hasty ponytails”?


“Well, ma’am, I never met a presidential candidate with pink nail polish on.”

Republican National Committee Holds Spring Meeting In Scottsdale, ArizonaRepublican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.Photograph by Laura Segall — Getty Images

This keen observation was made about Carly Fiorina by Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner. “Well, there’s always a first,” was Fiorina’s reply. Incidentally, Fiorina was also the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 US company, but apparently Bedard was more interested talking polish than business.


“A good wife doesn’t disagree with her master in public and a good little girl doesn’t lie about why she quit politics.”

When Tory MP Louise Mensch resigned as an MP, she explained she was stepping down because she wanted to move to New York with her American husband Peter Mensch. But that wasn’t good enough for Labour MP Austin Mitchell, who tweeted about it in the most sexist way possible. (Mitchell is out of office now. Related?)


“Iron my shirt!”

 

Finally, there’s this classic: Then-New York Senator Hillary Clinton was addressing a crowd in Salem, New Hampshire, when she was interrupted by a man chanting, “Iron my shirt!” and holding up a sign with the same words. We can’t help but wonder where this man is today and whether he’s managed to resolve his wrinkled shirt dilemma. After all—Hillary’s a little busy right now.

“Calm down, dear.”

Prime Minister David Cameron famously used this phrase to tell Labour MP Angela Eagle to cool it during a House of Commons exchange. While he tried to pass it off as a popular “humorous remark” at his alma mater Oxford University, Eagle didn’t buy it. “I’ve been patronized by better people than the Prime Minister,” she quipped to the BBC.

“The bangs. The headbands. The hair flip. The paillettes.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

Fortunately for Americans everywhere, US News decided to publish a 2012 article called, “Hillary Clinton’s Long-time Hairstylist Shares Secrets Behind The Diplomat’s Ever-Changing Hair.” Whatever would our nation do without the essential knowledge that “the Secretary of State has grown her hair longer, even putting it up in hasty ponytails”?

“Well, ma’am, I never met a presidential candidate with pink nail polish on.”

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

This keen observation was made about Carly Fiorina by Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner. “Well, there’s always a first,” was Fiorina’s reply. Incidentally, Fiorina was also the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 US company, but I can see why pink nail polish is the more pressing thing to ask your potential future president.

“A good wife doesn’t disagree with her master in public and a good little girl doesn’t lie about why she quit politics.”

“Iron my shirt!”