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Friday, November 4, 2016

The tiny box that holds the future

There are so many things I could say about this historical presidential election but most of them I will keep to myself. 

I will save the quips and links to the hilarious Saturday Night Live spoofs. I will try hard not to step up on my soapbox.

But there are some things that deserve a place, a space. 

When I grew up, it was laughable when girls, posed with the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" responded with, "I want to be President."  Adults patted them condescendingly on the shoulder and all but said, "That's nice, Dear."

For the generation that came after me, it was less a joke and more a possibility. For the current generation, it is an inevitability. 

Our girls got to see the first black president ever elected, though we had to explain over and over why that was such a big deal. These same girls who when we talked about slavery would sit with their chins on the floor in disbelief. What we were saying was so outrageous we MUST be confabulating it. 

These same girls who went through three different political campaigns before their mothers had the right to marry each other. "Why would people vote against this? Why don't they want you to get  married?" they would ask. "We don't understand." That is because hatred and exclusion are not born in a child's heart. They are taught.

For them a female running for president is not such a big deal. I mean, of course, why WOULDN'T a woman run for president?

It really is cool with me if you are not a fan of Hillary Clinton. I get that she has made some mistakes and she rubs some people the wrong way politically, but she is the first, the first, woman to ever run for president. And in so doing she has shouldered more hatred and insult than probably any other candidate in history, not simply because of her opinions on policy, social issues or the national debt, but because she is a woman

That is the epitome of injustice. 

I have been a voter for 22 years now. I have heard many candidates be insulted. But never, ever have I heard the level of vulgarity of this election, specifically vulgarity aimed at woman. I have never before seen lawn signs and t-shirts with the level of crudeness of those that say, "Hillary for Prison" and "Lock her up." I've never heard a candidate refer to women in such derogatory terms (not just Clinton but women in general). Never, ever did I think I would see bumper stickers that would call a candidate a bitch. When I drive down the road and see "Trump that bitch" on the back of a car I think how is this election NOT about gender?

Has there ever been a male candidate referred to in such defamatory terms? People might call a male politician an ass or a womanizer. They might call him mistrustful, cagey or even incompetent. But never have we had stickers and shirts using profanity toward a male candidate. 

I saw a post on Facebook (written by a man) that said something to this effect:

If you think this presidential race has nothing to do with gender, answer this: if Hillary Clinton had five children with three different men would she even be remotely considered as a presidential candidate?

The double standards abound. The qualities often criticized in Clinton- tenacity, ambition, arrogance, intelligence, power, influence, determined and unapologetic pursuit of goals- are heralded in male candidates. These are the qualities generally thought of as "presidential" even. Apparently these qualities still, in 2016, aren't so becoming on a woman, even if she is running for President of the United States of America.

I would like to poll the general Hillary haters and ask them what their ideal female candidate would look like? Would the answer be a kinder, softer woman, maybe one who bakes cookies for her staff, who is deferential to her husband and those in power around her, who is less bossy and less driven? Of course not. No one would vote to elect that sort of woman president. 

Perhaps the more honest answer for some people is that there is no ideal female candidate because they think a woman simply shouldn't be president. 

Tell that to them:

The box is so tiny. The implications so enormous.

I'm not saying you should vote for Clinton just because she is woman. But don't not vote for her just because she's a woman. 

I fall asleep at night thinking of these same words, "Madame President" and I dream of a world with less hate and more possibility. One where our girls can see an endless parade of strong women before them, women who ignite in them a knowing that they can do and be almost anything they want. 

(Except an Olympic gymnast. I think the ship has sailed on that one. You have to sort of be exceptional by age 5 or 6 to travel that road. I guess the same goes for being a child prodigy. But mostly anything else.)

1 comment:

Rachel Booker said...

Beautifully written. Daily, my heart fills with hope of a new future for women. This is sometimes and tenuous hope that feels so brittle it might break if too much pressure is applied. This is sometimes a hope that resounds like a church bell that is so deep and strong you can feel it as much as you can hear it. And sometimes, on dark nights, when I am the only one awake in my home, that hope is so small and frail and trembling, it almost disappears. It is then I need the strength of other women and their hope to sustain me. Thank you.

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