Two years have passed since Hillary Clinton campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination and Sarah Palin campaigned for vice president as the Republican nominee.
Rebecca Traister covered both candidates for Salon.com and is out with a new book about their campaigns and the media coverage called "Big Girls Don't Cry" published by Simon and Schuster, a division of CBS. She spoke to CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell.
Russ Mitchell: Let's begin with Hillary Clinton. When it comes to her campaign, just how much how sexism was going on, not only in the campaign but in the overall tone of the nation at that time?
Rebecca Traister: Well, there was an enormous amount of sexism, some it very overt -- the Hillary "nutrackers," the "iron my shirt" bumper stickers that used the "b" word and worse about her. That stuff was very overt, and there was the more subtle stuff -- the obsession with her voice and her tone and her laugh and what she was wearing -- that was all really tied to the fact that she was a woman. And that was the stuff that we needed to talk about a little bit more in order to recognize it as sexism.
Russ Mitchell: I see. Did Sarah Palin go through the same thing in many ways?
Rebecca Traister: Yes, though it came from different angles, obviously. But sure, as far as the obsession over, for example, her large clothing budget without much thought that if you're a woman on the campaign trial you require a different kind of aesthetic maintenance, that we have different expectation about how women look in the clothes and makeup than we do for men.
There were all kinds of ways in which the fact that these were women, who've we really almost never had on a presidential stage before, was going to impact the way we think about them, the way we talk about them, the way we criticize them in all kinds of ways.
Russ Mitchell: Of course, an African-American man was running for president at the same time. Many discussions were going around this country about what's worse, racism or sexism, because he was dealing with some things as well. Any conclusions?
Rebecca Traister: I don't think the comparisons and the sort of contest of oppressions was a particularly useful road to take, though it was one that many of us couldn't help but take. One of the things that became apparent through what was sexism and racism that we heard through the campaign is that these things are really connected, and that when you talk about people who have been shut out of power, people who have never had access to presidential power or really even to serious presidential campaigns before, you're talking about different kinds of oppressions that have been connected, and in fact we saw them during 2008 uprooted together a little bit.
Russ Mitchell: Do you think America learned something from the 2008 campaign, and are women better off today, are they doing better today because of what Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin went through?
Rebecca Traister: I wouldn't suggest that things are fixed and that misogyny and sexism are gone any more than the racism is gone when we talk about Obama sometimes. But what I would suggest is that the fact that we are having these conversations and that we have vocabulary and heightened awareness about the sexism, about the prejudices, that we're talking about with these candidates means that we're moving toward a better place, where we can we talk openly about some of the unfairness the candidates face.