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Did Sexism Play a Role in Clinton's Loss?

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Did Sexism Play a Role in Clinton's Loss?

Election 2008

Did Sexism Play a Role in Clinton's Loss?

Did Sexism Play a Role in Clinton's Loss?

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Women, Clinton

Four women watch as Hillary Clinton announces she is suspending her presidential campaign, on June 7. Mark Wilson/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Mark Wilson/AFP/Getty Images

A lifelong Democrat, Rebecca Traister says she agonized over the decision about whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. She wanted to be excited about the first woman who had a truly plausible shot at the White House, but she also felt that, politically, Clinton had disappointed her time and again.

"When it came down to it," she says, "I became tied up in knots." She says she spent 20 minutes in the voting booth trying to make up her mind, before deciding to pull the lever for Clinton.

"She's one of the greatest characters out there," she said. "The way she frustrates, beguiles and enrages everyone out there."

But Traister finds it interesting that only now, after the primaries are over, are people discussing issues of sexism and gender surrounding the Clinton campaign.

"People are only comfortable having that discussion now," she says, "when it should have been going on all along."

It's not that she thinks that Clinton was defeated by sexism, and she says that's not the point. "We don't have to connect the fact that there was sexism or misogyny to her loss," she argues. "Sexism doesn't only exist when it causes a loss." She says there were clearly moments gender worked in Clinton's favor as well.

But Traister says that Clinton never had the kind of conversation about gender that Obama was forced to have about race. "Hillary did not spend a lot of time talking about gender, except in the 'You go, girl' kind of way," she says. "Certainly not in a thoughtful or nuanced way, and now that it's over, people are criticizing her for that."

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