Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton in London

Female politicians and women in public eye, still face scrutiny over their looks and pressure to behave politely and meekly in a way that men do not, Hillary Clinton, former US Presidential candidate said in London on Sunday.

Hillary, in London to promote a book she co-authored with her daughter, Chelsea said female politicians are facing a backlash over women’s rights which has been fuelled by social media that rewards abusive posts and conspiracy theories,

Her comments came after a number of female members of parliament in Britain announced they would not stand for re-election at a Dec. 12 general election, citing abuse on social media including rape and death threats.

Hillary and daughter Chelsea

“I do think there is a reaction to a lot of the success of women and the roles of women right now,” Clinton told an audience at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in central London.

“And I think social media has lit that up, in a very destructive and toxic way. People may have thought a lot of things in the past but now it is amplified and it is viral.”

Clinton talks to Mary Beard

Clinton, who lost out on her bid to become the first female president of the United States at the 2016 election, has said misogyny “certainly” played a role in her defeat to Republican rival Donald Trump.

An international study last year by Atalanta, a social enterprise dedicated to advancing women’s leadership, found female lawmakers were three times more likely than men to receive sexist comments than their male colleagues.

Clinton said the scepticism towards Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg from some critics revealed how much gendered norms still prevailed in many areas of public life.

“She is a young women, so the idea that she is standing up and speaking out as effectively as she has just rattles all of the paradigms that people still live with,” she said.

“There’s almost an ancient DNA imprinting about ‘This is what women are supposed to do and this is what they are supposed to look like’ and you are not supposed to be so pushy and aggressive … it is maddening how much that still operates.”

The Clintons said they hoped their “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories of Courage and Resilience” would inspire women to stand up for their beliefs – and help men and boys find female heroes.

It comes amid a growing debate over remaining glass ceilings for women, with U.S.-based Women’s March demanding rights, while the #MeToo movement on social media against sexual abuse has sparked wider debates on pay, representation and sexism.