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upworthy

double standards

Journalist Chris Wallace and actor Adam Driver.

Female actors in Hollywood are routinely criticized by the press, producers and fans on social media for their appearances. It must be incredibly daunting to undergo constant scrutiny just to do your job and express yourself through your art.

For the most part, men have it a lot easier in Hollywood, where the superficial importance of looks is a less critical to their success. That double standard is why a recent interaction between actor Adam Driver and journalist Chris Wallace is so interesting.

It’s a rare moment when a member of the press is critical of a man’s looks to his face. But Driver handles the situation with grace and humor.

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Humans of New York, the popular photo blog you've probably seen on  Facebook, did something a bit unusual on Sept. 8, 2016.

It featured Hillary Clinton.

“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women...

The move was pretty out of the ordinary for Humans of New York (HONY), as the series typically stays away from the muddy waters of U.S. politics.

And although you could argue Clinton's inclusion on HONY was political — everything a candidate does in the gleam of the spotlight is political, after all — the post still struck a chord with women of varied political leanings who can relate.

In the post, Clinton opens up about an experience she had in college when classmates tried intimidating her out of taking a test.

"While we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do.’ It turned into a real ‘pile on,'" Clinton explained in the post. "One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I'll die.’ And they weren’t kidding around."

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

Clinton goes on to explain it was moments like these that taught her, as a woman, she needed to be extra careful in handling her emotions publicly.

It speaks to the double standards often applied to women when it comes to how they should express themselves and their emotions (double standards that, by the way, also hurt men too).

The best part about Clinton's post, however, was how it resonated with other women online.

Many of the commenters were't too kind, as you can imagine.

But there were also many notes from women chiming in on the fact that, regardless of how you feel about Clinton the candidate, her experience shines a light on the type of sexism half the population still has to deal with all the time.

Like how society's mixed messages on how women should think and act can create impossible standards to uphold.

Or how — even to commenters who aren't fans of Clinton — the candidate's firsthand experience hits very close to home.

Of course, in Clinton's case, these double standards have been thrown into a spotlight for the world to see. And it's not pretty.

Other commenters noted how double standards affect all of our perceptions, oftentimes in subconscious ways.

And some gave a shoutout to the women who overcome this type of treatment and keep going.  

Clinton's HONY story was impactful because, in a certain sense, it wasn't really about her at all.

People with various political leanings were able to empathize with what she went through. They know how these double standards have affected their own lives in very real ways.

Thousands of people were able to connect with one another over shared experiences in a single Facebook thread. And it had little to do with the candidate who started the conversation.

Clinton's story got to the heart of a much bigger message: We all have emotions, and we should all be free to express them however we choose — regardless of our gender (or the office we're running for).

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In 2012, designer Wendy Fox was watching the London Olympics when she noticed something about the women athletes.

"I was really amazed by the physical diversity of the female athletes and how vastly they differ depending on the requirements of the sport," says Fox.

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He actually said this woman with kids shouldn't run for office. She shut him down.

The public believes women are just as qualified as men but often still don't vote them in.

An Ohio woman was recently cautioned against running for office because she's a mom. Yes, this really happened. In 2016. WTF.

Jennifer Herold is running for state representative in Ohio's 7th district. Her opponent, a man by the name of Tom Patton, suggested that she, as a mother of two, should wait until her kids are all grown up before she considers running for office.

"The gal that’s running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of two infants," Patton said in a radio appearance. "I don’t know if anyone explained to her you have to spend three nights a week in Columbus. So, how does that work out for you? Umm, I waited until I was 48, till my kids were raised and at least adults, before we took the opportunity to try."

Of course, Herold wasn't having any of this and issued a statement shutting Patton's sexist nonsense down with a few examples from history.

As Herold points out, Patton's argument relies on a persistent and outdated sexist double standard. After all, it's not like there are any other politicians who've balanced work and parenting. Right?

Unless you count President Obama ... oh, and Presidents Bush (both of 'em), Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, or, well,  you get the idea.

And those are just the presidents. 

"There are numerous examples of women with children who have admirably served our nation," Herold writes, referencing Sarah Palin, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, and Rep. Christina Hagan who gave birth in December and is already back at work. She also mentions Ohio Gov. John Kasich's teenage daughters and Speaker Paul Ryan's weekly commutes between D.C. and Wisconsin to see his family.  

"So I ask Mr. Patton, by your logic, are you saying that 2 Vice Presidential nominees, the highest ranking woman in The House Leadership Team, our sitting Governor and Lieutenant Governor and a colleague in the Ohio Legislature are all unfit to serve?" Herold asks.

"Further, are your colleagues in the Ohio Legislature, the majority whom have had young children while serving, aware of your views? Do you draw a distinction between whether that representative is a mother or a father who is serving?"

Here's Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in 2012 with his wife Janna, mother Betty, and children Sam, Charlie, and Liza. Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

Herold isn't the first mom to deal with this. In 2000, Heidi Heitkamp shut down a similar question with a totally iconic response.

Back in 2000, Heidi Heitkamp was running for governor of North Dakota against John Hoeven. While Hoeven would regularly get questions about policy issues, Heitkamp was frequently asked about her two kids, Nathan and Ali, how she'd handle splitting time between raising a family and running the state, and other issues women in the workforce seem to get asked about on an all-too-regular basis. One day, a reporter asked how old her kids were. Her now-famous response? "They're the same age as my opponent's kids."

Herold and Heitkamp are not alone in having to answer ridiculous questions like this. According to a 2014 Pew survey17% of Americans think the reason more women aren't in office has to do with their family commitments. (Not so sure men are being held to that same standard, guys!)

In the end, Heitkamp lost the race for governor, but she made a powerful point about the double standard women are held to when it comes to pursuing their professional goals. Women are asked questions about "having it all," while, it's generally just understood that men don't have a problem doing the same.

Heitkamp eventually ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, eking out a victory over Republican Rick Berg.

While she lost that 2000 battle for the North Dakota governorship, Heidi Heitkamp did come away with an epic one-liner. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

People should be judged on the basis of their qualifications, not on their gender, race, sexuality, or other demographic factor.

After Jennifer Herold's Facebook status started gaining attention, her opponent issued a statement to the Today show, saying, "I used a poor choice of words to express what I know firsthand — raising young children and working is tough."

"I would ask to be judged on my hard work and advocacy for working families," Patton added, echoing exactly what mothers everywhere have been asking for all along.

So let's do that, shall we? Not because Patton finally got with the program, but because it's the right thing to do.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is joined by 65 women elected to the House of Representatives in a ceremonial swearing in. Over the past 20 years, the number of women in office has doubled, but it still remains disproportionately low. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

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