Hillary Clinton's advice to women facing 21st century sexism

ST PAUL, MN - JULY 20: Hillary Clinton takes the stage during the 2014 Starkey Hearing Foundation So The World May Hear Gala at the St. Paul RiverCentre on July 20, 2014 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation) Adam Bettcher, Getty Images for Starkey Hearing

Remembering "rattling" harassment from men while on "the front lines" of feminist change in the late 1960s, Hillary Clinton in a recent interview offered some advice to women trying to navigate 21st century sexism.

The former secretary of state and early frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination spoke with Glamour magazine about ever-prevailing double standards for women trying to make it in careers both inside and outside the political arena. One all-too-common trait women tend to adopt is the "perfectionist gene," Clinton said.

"You don't have to be perfect," she said. "Most men never think like that. They're just trying to figure out what's the opening and how they can seize it. They're not thinking about, 'Oh my gosh, I'm not perfect, my hair's not perfect today, I wore the wrong shoes.'"

Having been the butt of many a pantsuit joke, Clinton said she knows all too well that women - particularly those pursuing public office - generally have to follow Eleanor Roosevelt's maxim about "growing skin as think as the hide of a rhinoceros." Clinton, whose 2008 White House bid faced an onslaught of sexist reproach, including several descriptions of her that involved the word, "bitch," conceded: "It can be a really brutal experience."

But, she qualified, "I think if you were to talk to women who have run, both successfully and unsuccessfully, nearly all of them would say, 'You learn so much.' You learn about yourself, what you're capable of doing.

"...And it doesn't have to all happen when you're young," she went on. "I mean, one of the most powerful women in American politics is [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi. She had five children. She didn't go into politics until her youngest child was in high school.... That's one of the great things about being a woman in today's world: You have a much longer potential work life than our mothers or our grandmothers did."

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    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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