I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008. A lot of that had to do with liking Barack Obama, but I’m ashamed to admit that there was another influencing factor. I didn’t want to vote for Hillary because she is a woman.
It wasn’t that I didn’t think a woman should be President of the United States. Quite the contrary. I felt like having a woman President was long overdue, and that was the problem.
I knew Hillary was good enough to be President. I knew that. I just wasn’t sure she was good enough to be the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
See, the problem was that Hillary wasn’t perfect. Sure, none of the men I’ve ever voted for have been perfect, but Hillary Clinton would be the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! She would be the figurehead of my country AND my gender! She couldn’t just be good! I needed her to be transcendent! I wanted the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES to be an idealized blend of Betsy Ross, Susan B. Anthony, Grace Kelly, and Oprah!
I was doing to Hillary Clinton the same thing that gets done to so many professional women, that too many professional women do to each other, and to ourselves. I was holding her to a higher standard than her male counterparts.
For a woman to be considered successful it is not enough for her to be accomplished. For a woman to be considered admirable it is not enough for her to be intelligent and caring. No, a woman must also be attractive (in a hetero-normative way). She needs to smile and smile often. She should have nice hair and wear make-up. She needs to have a soothing voice. If she has a husband, her career cannot limit his success. If she has children, she has to bake cookies. She should never, ever age. And, most importantly, she should be able to “take a joke” if someone comments on her perceived deficiencies in any of those areas.
I am guilty of thinking those things about myself. I am guilty of thinking them about other women, including Hillary Clinton, but my views have matured in the past 8 years.
I don’t regret my vote in 2008, but this time around there was no question of who I would support. Hillary Clinton is experienced and smart. (She even believes in science!) I don’t agree with all of her policies, but I agree with far more of her policies than those of anyone else in the race. And, yes, she is a woman, and this time that is part of what I like about her.
Someone has to be the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and Hillary sets a damn high bar for what that means. Few others, regardless of gender, can match her qualifications.
I hope that in my lifetime there will be enough data points to quibble over who has been the best female President of the United States. Even better would be having the open-mindedness to debate who has been the best President period, without caveats for gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else. But first things first, there must be a first.
I’ll be proud to see Hillary Clinton become the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Yes, this time, I’m with her.
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