Hillary Clinton fainted, once. That doesn’t make her an unfit presidential candidate

Would the media be calling her out so much if she was a man?

Hillary Clinton isn’t the first American politician to become ill on the job.

George Bush Sr once fainted after vomiting on the Japanese Prime Minister. His son George W Bush fainted after choking on a pretzel. In 1960, Vice President Nixon campaigned from his sick bed. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John F Kennedy managed to keep their health problems private throughout their political careers.

So why is it then, that when Hillary – who, despite what you might think of her politics, could be set to make history as the first female POTUS – faints once, her health is an immediate source of panic in the media, and a source of ammunition for Trump supporters branding her unfit for the position?

Earlier this month Donald Trump told supporters she “lacks the mental and physical stamina” to be president and since she fainted at a 9/11 ceremony on Friday there has been a flurry of media articles on what will happen if she drops out. This comes despite no evidence to suggest Clinton will decide to do such a thing and information from her doctor saying a full recovery will be made.

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Hillary herself emerged from her daughter Chelsea’s NYC apartment smiling and waving after the incident. Doctors say it was caused by a very treatable case of pneumonia which she is taking antibiotics to overcome and rarely leaves sufferers needing hospitalisation or bed rest. It doesn’t seem like the most dramatic turn of events in the world, so the scrambling of her detractors to use it as a reason she’s weak, unfit and not up to the job seems at best ridiculous, and at worst a comment on her as a woman.

As some sites make bizarre claims about lookalikes and secret metal devices revealing all of Hill’s deep dark secrets, it’s easy to brush over the situation as just another bizarre, laughable day on the campaign trail in American politics. But it’s more than that – it feels that women are often judged as inferior in overcoming physical and mental challenges. The stereotype surrounding women as a ‘weaker sex’ is an archaic one, but obviously it’s still active today.

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Clinton’s age – she’s younger than Trump, just in case you forgot – or physical health doesn’t effect her capabilities to lead the free world. Her health doesn’t effect her intelligence, her dedication or her political acumen. And yet, despite everything else which has happened in her quest for the White House, this is the single incident which has made the “she might not be able to handle it” headlines.

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Maybe it’s not all sexism. Maybe it’s the fickleness of voters, or the drama of election season. But more likely it shows that despite their experience or knowledge, in some occasions women will always be perceived as weak. Male politicians didn’t suffer the same negative attention and undermining of their position in similar situations.

And it shouldn’t be something that every woman, regardless of whether or not they work in politics, can ignore. Does a day off sick make a woman less likely to be promoted? Do colleagues judge women in the workplace as weak based on their health?

Opinions on Hillary Clinton’s ability to be president should be based on her political views, experience, ethics and her answers to debates and questions and yet instead over a small incident with her health many see her as unfit to lead .

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