In his Democratic National Convention speech on 27 July, Barack Obama said:

Let me tell you, eight years ago, you may remember Hillary and I were rivals for the Democratic nomination. We battled for a year and a half. Let me tell you, it was tough, because Hillary was tough. I was worn out. She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers, it was backwards in heels. And every time I thought I might have the race won, Hillary just came back stronger.

The link for the transcript

What is it meant by "it was backwards in heels"?

2 Answers 2


The American film star Fred Astaire was famous as a graceful and skilled dancer in musicals. His dance partner in many films was Ginger Rogers. Bob Thaves, an American cartoonist, wrote of Fred Astaire in his comic strip Frank and Ernest:

Sure he was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards...and in high heels!

The reference in the speech compares Secretary Clinton to Ginger Rogers. The implication is that she did everything her male counterparts have done, but with the added difficulty of doing so as a woman in a society that has historically advanced men over women.


This is a reference to a quotation about Ginger Rogers, who appeared in several films dancing with Fred Astaire.

Fred Astaire was supposed to have a reputation as a better dancer, the comment on that in the quotation was that:

"She did everything that he did, but backwards and in high heels".

Referring to the fact that the man always leads in dancing. She was suggesting that the woman has to work harder to keep up.

The Obama reference using that quotation is suggesting that women have to work harder to keep up in the world of politics.

  • 6
    the quotation is about and not by Ginger Rogers as it says in the link: "On the internet and in many publications the line is incorrectly attributed to Faith Whittlesey (see "List of Websites That Have Attributed Thaves' Line to Whittlesey". Google. Retrieved on 2009-07-25.) or Rogers herself."
    – MD-Tech
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 10:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .