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Hillary Clinton says women should laugh at Abbott's sexist remarks

Hillary Clinton. Photography by Marco Grob.
Now Hillary Clinton - who as US Secretary of State was the most powerful woman in the world - has weighed into the debate, and her advice may come as a surprise.
Instead of spending their time complaining, Hillary suggests that women start laughing at the stupid things men say.
Instead of getting all defensive, they should just shake it off, and get on with the job.
In an exclusive interview, published in this month's Power Issue of The Weekly, Mrs Clinton – a possible contender for the White House in 2016 - made plain that she was aware of Julia Gillard's complaints about Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and others that she believes disrespected her.
She has advised Australian women to start laughing at Tony Abbott the next time he makes one of his sexist remarks.
Instead of trying to change the Prime Minister, who in the recent past has referred to his female colleagues as 'hot' and to a woman’s virginity as the greatest gift she can give her husband, Hillary tells The Weekly that women should try to turn the joke on him.
"Laugh," she said, when asked what Australian women should do, when next dismayed by something Mr Abbott has said.
Laugh at the Prime Minister?
"I think that may be the best response," she said, nodding grimly.
Yet she told The Weekly she holds out some hope for Abbott personally, saying: "He has a woman Foreign Minister, a high-ranking, accomplished woman," she says. "I've met her – Minister (Julie) Bishop. I'm sure she's making contributions."
Hillary says she watched attacks on former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's weight, hair, fertility and marital status from afar, and it was akin to watching an old movie: she, too, has copped criticism for her hair (while Secretary of State, Hillary took to wearing scrunchies because who can really be bothered with hot tongs and blow-dryers when you've got 112 countries to visit); her clothes (pants suits are so much easier when you’re on the move) and her weight (it fluctuates, which apparently matters to somebody) and she used to get upset but now, like Germany's steely Angela Merkel, she tends to let it slide, for the drivel that it is.
Asked if Gillard's mistake was to let it the criticism to her, Hillary said: "It's a very hard question to answer. You have to stand up to it. You have to try to make it unacceptable, beyond the pale in political discourse. But how you do it, and the impressions that your efforts leave are often unpredictable.
"Humour is always a good tool - but not always sufficient. Much of the attack as I saw it from afar, on Prime Minister Gillard, was really beyond that, beyond the bounds of appropriate political discourse.
"It's one thing if a shock jock on the radio – we have a lot of those - says something that's sexist, but when people in governmental positions or elected positions join in, then it's not just disrespecting one woman, it's disrespecting all women."
Hillary says she encouraged the former PM to get on the front foot, and was impressed when Julia launched into the so-called 'misogyny speech' on the floor of Parliament, attacking Tony Abbott.
"I thought it was very brave," she says. "I thought that it was a well-argued rebuttal of the sexism that had been deployed against her but also putting into a larger context, by pointing out that it should not be acceptable, to engage in that kind of discriminatory speech and behaviour."
Ever the statesman, Hillary is also quick to point out that she has "no opinion about the outcome of the election in Australia because there are many issues. Voters make up their minds based on a whole range of concerns. But I did think it would have been a good step for people on both sides of the political aisle to say: we have plenty of reasons to support, or to oppose the Prime Minister, but we stand against the injection of sexism into our politics. We need to get beyond that."
Hillary's distaste for many of the things Abbott has said in the past does not colour her view of Australia as a whole.
"Our two nations are great friends," Hillary says, "our values, our democratic traditions, our cultures are so similar." She spoke warmly throughout the interview of Australia – she visits fairly often, and has a close friend from college in Adelaide – and more generally of Australians, with perhaps one exception: Julian Assange.
Hillary was Secretary of State when Assange leaked tens of thousands of top-secret diplomatic cables, in which US diplomats spoke in sometimes withering tones about politicians in their host countries. He embarrassed the US in front of foreign powers, and there was talk that he’d be extradited, but Hillary insists that, as far as she’s aware, the US did not want to arrest him.
"It's the intention of the Swedish government to arrest him - on rape charges!" she says, "but as far as I know, there are no charges against him here (in the US.) My understanding is he's hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy because he doesn't want to be returned to Sweden to face the charges brought against him by two women."
True - but he humiliated her country. What punishment does he deserve?
"Oh, I don't know that I would use that phrase," Hillary says, "He caused us a lot of bother. People's names were mentioned in sensitive cables that could have resulted in quite dire consequences. We had to move people. We had to bring home ambassadors because of their honest reporting about (former Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi and others. So he caused a lot of annoyance and we certainly reacted to that. But as far as I know there is no court in the US looking for him, only courts in Sweden that are looking for him."
Mrs Clinton also addressed her decision to stay in her marriage, saying: "Sometimes the responsible choice is to stay."
"I don't think it's possible to speak for every person who faces challenges," she added, "It's so unique. There may be common experiences (in long marriages) but everyone feels them differently. My view has always been is that I support my friends – I support women – to make responsible choices."
For some women, "the responsible decision will be to go," she says. "It's hard to make broad, generalized statements about when that might be appropriate, because it's so personal. But that's what friends are for. You need somebody who will listen, and support you, to offer ideas, but not substitute their judgement."

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