'Amen sister': Clinton agrees with interviewer that authenticity is a 'bulls*** concept'

Garance Franke-Ruta
Senior Politics Editor

NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton pushed back against one of the most frequent criticisms she faced as a candidate last year — a lack of “authenticity” — agreeing with an interviewer that it amounted to a “bulls***” and sexist double standard. Her comments came on an episode of “Call Your Girlfriend,” a podcast popular with millennial women, released Friday.

“One of the things we talk about on the show a lot is how authenticity can really be a bulls*** concept when it comes to women, you know, and the double standards,” said Aminatou Sow, who co-hosts the podcast with journalist Ann Friedman.

“Amen. Amen, sister,” replied Clinton, who is in the midst of a book tour for “What Happened,” a nearly 500-page look at her run for the presidency as the first-ever major-party female nominee.

In the book, Clinton told Sow, “I try to be as candid as I can. And some reviewers have said, ‘Oh, her guard is down’ and, you know, ‘She’s pulled the curtains back and we get a behind-the-scenes look’ — all of which is great, if it helps people understand two things:

“I have been a pretty consistent person my entire life, and I have been an advocate and an activist and then later came to politics. … But through it all I’ve talked about the same things — women, children, families, fairness, justice, our democracy — and I have tried to be as clear as I could, but, as I write, I was always taken aback because interviewers would always ask, ‘Why are you really running for president?’ I didn’t see them asking Marco Rubio or Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz, ‘Why are you really running for president?’

“I always was struck by that,” Clinton added. “What do you mean, ‘really’? ‘Oh, if only she’d be her authentic self.’ Well my authentic self is what you see is what you get. And I was not going to be enticed or berated into being something that I’m not.”

The routine questioning about motivations “was a constant stress for me personally,” Clinton said. “But the larger point is it comes in part from the double standard and the remaining confusion about women in the public arena. … If you’re too strong and aggressive, people don’t like that. If you’re too soft-spoken, people don’t like that. If you change your hairstyle people are going to notice.”

“People are definitely going to talk about that,” Sow chimed in.

“Endlessly,” said Clinton. “And the list goes on. … There’s still a lot of remaining discomfort with the idea of a woman president.”

Clinton said she hoped her book would reach younger women who might not have had her back during her bid for the White House. “A lot of young women were reported during the campaign as saying, ‘Well, I just don’t think this women stuff is important anymore. I’m not a feminist. I’m, you know, I’m myself, I don’t think there’s inequality.’ And actually the older you get and the more you run into life’s obstacles and the challenges of balancing, you know, family and work and all the rest of it, the more you understand what’s at stake,” she said. “So I hope more young women will read this and reflect, and maybe talk about it with their girlfriends.”

They also talked about the topic of anger, with Sow expressing the view that some wonder why she she isn’t angrier.

Clinton explained that she is angry — but that ultimately she finds anger inadequate to what Democrats are facing.

“I remain frustrated and I remain dismayed and sometimes even angry about the continuing injustices and unfairness,” she said. “But what happened in this election that really was shocking is that a sexist, misogynistic candidate who insults women — how they look, how much they weigh, how they behave – got elected because people were willing to overlook his admission of sexual assault. They were willing to overlook his name-calling in pursuit of the political partisan interests. And that, I worry about, has given permission for others to be overtly sexist and misogynistic, as well as racist and prejudiced against ethic, religious and sexual orientation minorities. “

“You have to be willing to acknowledge your anger, and your determination to do something about it. But anger is not good for you internally. It’s bad for your system. It upsets your stomach. It may cause other symptoms. So I don’t want people to just be angry, I want people to be strategic,” Clinton said.

“You know in the reviews of this book, a number of reviewers have said, ‘Oh she’s angry.’ Well, yeah, I am. I am angry. But I also know that if I’m only angry, I can’t sound the alarms I’m trying to sound in the book, about sexism and misogyny, about voter suppression of African-Americans and young people in particular, about the Russians who not only impacted our election but are still working against us. So I have a list of things that make me really angry that I’m trying to be strategic in addressing.”

That’s why she started the group Onward Together to provide funding to grassroots anti-Trump resistance groups and groups working toward flipping Congress in 2018, she said. “I don’t want us just to be angry. I want us to win,” she said, adding that she “proudly” considers herself a member of the resistance.

“I consider the fact that I didn’t go away, that I didn’t get, you know, frightened off by my critics on both the right and the left, as part of my personal resistance,” she said. “I think I’ve got a lot of experience. I have some insight that I’m going to keep sharing and talking about. If you don’t want to hear it, don’t listen.”

“We are facing a clear and present danger from this administration,” she said. “There’s a lot at stake for everybody in this.”

As far as the path forward for Democrats, they need to talk about race, gender, homophobia, Islamophobia and “immigrant-bashing,” as well as the economy, she said. “So yeah, do we have to do a better job getting rising incomes? I had great plans for doing that. Nobody heard them. Because all they wanted to talk about was my emails, which was the dumbest scandal of the universe. Dumb mistake, but an even dumber scandal.”

“We have to stand up to Trump on all grounds,” she said. “Not just a few.”