On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton sat down for a candid interview with Anderson Cooper and addressed the factors that played a role in her electoral college loss to Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, Clinton told Refinery29 that although misogyny wasn't the deciding factor in the election, she believes her gender impacted the presidential race. (The issue remains a source of contention among both Democrats and Republicans, but research suggests that sexism indeed played a role in the outcome.)
But Clinton's comments to Cooper addressed the way sexism affects all women.
"If we don't confront [sexism], there could be a big backlash that will undermine a lot of young women and their futures," the former secretary of state said, noting that the problem is not exclusive to women in politics.
When Clinton left her position as secretary of state, her approval rating was 64 percent, making her more popular than both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. During her interview with Cooper, Clinton elaborated on a point she makes in What Happened: Women are viewed positively when they're in "supporting" roles.
"When a women advocates for someone else, people like you and the job you’re doing," she told Cooper, adding that it's a different story when women "step into the arena" themselves.
Although Clinton's experience of course refers to the fact that she worked for Obama, she pointed out that these dynamics affect many women in the workplace.
If a woman goes to her employer and advocates a raise for someone else, it's viewed positively, Clinton said. "If she advocates for herself, it's used against her. When a man advocates for himself, [the response is] 'the guy’s got guts.'"
She also addressed the Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump bragged about groping women without their consent. Just two days after the tape's release, Cooper moderated the second debate between Trump and Clinton. Clinton thanked Cooper for "starting the debate by saying what needed to be said" when he asked Trump if he understood that he was "describing sexual assault" on the tapes in question.
The Justice Department agrees that Trump's comments indeed describe sexual assault and Clinton told Cooper that she was "troubled personally" as well as politically, especially when media attention quickly fizzled. It is deeply disturbing to many women, especially sexual assault survivors, that these lewd sexual comments were brushed off and ignored by voters.
As for Trump's constant lurking behind her throughout the second debate, Clinton said it was disconcerting but she handled it as she's handled previous situations. "Women have to be aware of our surroundings," she told Cooper. The constant need to be on guard to protect our own safety is painfully relatable.
We'll never know whether or not sexism cost Clinton the election, but her message about the role misogyny plays in society is an important message for everyone.