Monday night (September 26, 2016) was another historical moment for the United States when the first woman took the stage in a presidential debate as the nominee of a major political party, against the nominee of an opposing party. Well, these historical moments are not as relished as, perhaps, they should be simply because there are so many of them. Everything Hillary accomplishes and does from here forward constitutes new steps into uncharted territories. Everything is a first. So, I am taking this brief moment to recognize this and appreciate it. Whether you agree with Hillary or not politically, it does not change the historical significance we witness every day.
It should also be no surprise to anyone that I, or this little unknown blog, endorses and supports Hillary Clinton in her endeavor to seek the White House. Since this is a woman’s advocacy site, many may assume this is why I support Hillary, because she is a woman. This assumption, however, is not true. While I love to see women breaking barriers and demanding equality, I would not support any person to lead our country unless they represent the best option available. You see, this site does not promote women over anyone else. It promotes equality among all people, because only when everyone is equal, do women have equality. Because of this ideology and goal, it would be counter-productive to hold a female candidate to any different standard than a male counterpart. As long as women are held to a different standard, there is no equality. If I supported a lesser candidate because she is female, I would be a working part of the misogynistic culture I abhor. Why? Because if I were to prop up a lesser candidate simply because she is a woman, then I would be grading her on a curve, saying that because she is a woman, we shouldn’t expect as much, she is not as capable, so we should judge her based on what we think women are capable of achieving, rather than what we believe a candidate should be capable of accomplishing without regard to their sex.
This is no different than what we have witnessed day in and day out as misogynists suggest women are not as capable. Secretary Clinton’s accomplishments have been dismissed as largely attributable to men around her rather than her own ingenuity. Her failures and even the shortcomings of others, are attributed to her inability as a person and as a woman to make difficult decisions with clarity and logic.
Monday night’s debate was further evidence of the misogyny Hillary Clinton has been forced to face throughout a long career in different venues of public service. In fact, the debate was a snapshot of what strong women are dealing with every single day and of the patriarchal society we have silently built.
Sure, we love to point fingers at other countries where women have no rights at all, but forget we are not far removed from a similar time ourselves. Women have been guaranteed the right to vote in our country for less than a century. Women were discouraged to have careers and the opportunities for those who wished to were extremely limited. It was only out of the necessity of World War II that women emerged en masse into the workforce. Inspired by their new self-reliance, they refused to leave. But women were fired from jobs to make room for returning soldiers. Their work was certainly good enough to keep everything going, but not good enough if there was a man who could do it half as well. Women were expected to go back home, give up independence and become happy, meek housewives again.
Some did. We boasted television programming to portray this perfect lifestyle. Magazines targeted at women gave advice on how to be a better support for a husband, how to make him happier and reduce his stress. Over and over again, it was intimated that a woman’s happiness is in making her husband happy and taking care of the home. Do you think this propaganda against women and to influence women during the 1950’s was an accident? Women became entirely too powerful and independent while the men were off at war. They learned they were capable of running the machines -it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the men made it sound- that they were capable of doing home repairs, of plowing a field, of driving a truck, of working in a factory. They learned they really didn’t need men to do these things for them. Women could be self-reliant and still raise their children. When the men came home, they expected women to be thankful and miserable from all their hard work, gladly handing that back. Instead, as women retreated from the workforce, making way for men to take their places, they felt empty. They felt loss. They had worked at the factory and come home and made dinner for their children and helped them with homework and cleaned the house, then woke up early the next morning, made breakfast, got the kids off to school and went back to work again. They had done their job and their husband’s, too. Suddenly they were expected go back to doing their job and then pamper their husband when he came home, as though what he did was more meaningful.
Women have been searching for equality since the mid 1800’s, by differing degrees, not always even seeing the true inequality of their place in the world, but the emergence of feminism in the 1960’s and 1970’s was a direct result of the conflict women and girls felt from the propaganda campaigns of the 1950’s in attempts to push women back into the patriarch and stereotypical female roles of society. Women were told what they could and could not be, but they had glimpsed a moment which said otherwise, a moment which suggested they were not weak, but strong and capable. In that, dreams began to change from quietly encouraging their husband to achieve great things, to wondering what greatness lay dormant within themselves. Suddenly, their happiness mattered.
One of those little girls who dreamed of achieving incredible things was Hillary Rodham, the upper middle class daughter of a man who made draperies and window blinds and a woman he had met some years earlier as she applied for work at a textile factory. At the age of thirteen, excited by the prospects of the United States sending astronauts to space, Hillary sent a letter to NASA, ready to volunteer, wondering what to do to become an astronaut. Hillary will be the first to tell you, regardless of sex, she would not have made the cut because she was not particularly athletic nor did she have the best eyesight, but those were not the reasons she was rejected. She received a letter stating that women could not become astronauts. It was the first time in her life she had considered something great she would like to achieve, but was told no, only because she was a girl. Because she was female. It was an obstacle she could not overcome. A gender roadblock. It would not have mattered if she had been an excellent athlete with perfect vision and top of her class, she was excluded because she was not the right gender. It hurt. The attitude was that women could not be strong enough, smart enough or capable enough to aspire to the same greatness as a man.
She is still fighting that attitude today, fifty-five years later. Only this time, she’s telling the old men to just hide and watch. With patience Job could only pray for Monday night, Hillary endured interruption after interruption, fifty-one of them, in fact, from her bloviating Republican male counterpart. In typical misogynist fashion, Donald Trump interrupted and attempted to talk over her repeatedly, but became increasingly agitated and annoyed when he was interrupted and asked to stay on topic to the question, or interrupted to ask him to refrain from his interruption. Donald Trump went on a long dialogue regarding Clinton’s “stamina” and how she didn’t have the stamina to be president. Whatever that was supposed to mean. Yes, well, we actually do know what that was supposed to mean. Saying a woman does not have stamina compared to an overweight, elderly man who can’t stop sniffling is just another way of trying to tie into that embedded idea that women are weaker and you cannot trust them to be strong. Feeling he was losing ground against an intelligent woman, he resorted to making up incidents where he claimed to have witnessed, from behind a curtain, erratic behavior and an angry fit from Hillary. The suggestion is that strong women are just bitter and angry and hostile and volatile. Therefore, you can’t possibly trust a strong woman to keep her cool and a level head. But that is exactly what she did. Despite the bigoted antics of Donald Trump, Hillary laughed him off as the village idiot. He attempted to double down on strong women being mean and vindictive, capable of any cruelty by charging her with running”mean” ads against him. Donald Trump, of all the people in the world, the champion of Twitter Fight Night, had the audacity to pretend to be victimized by Hillary Clinton’s “meanness.”
While I only needed to hear Trump open his mouth once to know he would be the worst possible president our country could ever sink to, had I been on the fence at all as to how I would vote, it would have been solidified Monday night. Not because Hillary Clinton is a woman. Not because she has had to work harder and live up to twice the standard of any man. Not because the man standing at the opposite podium was a complete buffoon who seemed to measure his success by not picking his nose on national television. Instead, because she gave logical, thoughtful answers leveled with knowledge and depth of understanding. Because she was unflappable even when faced with outright fraudulent allegations. Because she answered questions with more than long winded soundbites deplete of knowledge or meaning or substance. Because she never once stooped to something undignified. Leveling a factual and relevant charge against your opponent is not name calling and it is not mean. It is holding them accountable for their words and actions and not allowing them to misrepresent or deny what they have done or said.
Hillary Clinton was neither mean nor hostile. She was every bit a diplomat, but unwavering as a strong leader should be. She withstood the onslaught of misogyny, all the way to the end and beyond where Donald Trump had the audacity to pat her back repeatedly, another act of dominance not unlike interrupting women, but this one more physical.
So I support Clinton because this is the demeanor I have witnessed repeatedly. She has had to work twice as hard to get half the recognition yet does it with grace and professionalism. But in the end, I simply feel safer entrusting our country to her than I ever could to someone like Donald Trump. So I support Hillary Rodham Clinton, and I would endorse her if I felt remotely important enough to be endorsing anyone. She had a boxing match against the biggest misogynist ego the RNC could offer up and she knocked him out. Here is hoping she can win the title match in November.
We are One Woman, One World.
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