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Is Hillary Clinton too old….and what might she be too old for?

by on February 21, 2014

As the run in to the next US presidential race gets underway, Hillary Clinton’s ‘age/gender’ combo is coming under particular scrutiny in the US press and prompting much debate about where the ageism and sexism ‘lines of debate’ might be best drawn (if they need to be drawn at all, though it seems that particular line has already been crossed).

Political issues aside, the age debate got underway last year, here in two stories from the Huffington Post but the most recent coverage is in the National Journal.  It is worth noting that this piece was quickly followed up by the same author writing about Joe Biden.    However one point to note is that Hillary’s age was subject to scrutiny first – despite the fact that she is almost 5 years the younger.  Moreover, despite echoing the ‘Is X too old’ the second piece actually seems to give more wordcount (no I didn’t explicitly check) to Hillary’s age, AGAIN!  I am not sure there is actually any discussion of Joe Biden’s age other than in the title.  Now this of course has prompted much response, much of which is embedded within the US political spectrum and so it is rather difficult to disentangle discussions about age and gender.  Nevertheless, as Froma Harrop discusses in the Seattle Times Both men and women face age discrimination, but it’s no secret that for women, ageism mixes easily with sexism. And obsessing over a woman’s year of birth is often a slightly more respectable substitute for the latter.”  And even if you are not running for presidential office, public discourse which normalises attacking an individuals age or age and gender in combination, makes everyday ageism and sexism – a double jeopardy for older women – appear acceptable.

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