On Tuesday, June 8th when Hillary Clinton took the podium at Brooklyn Navy Shipyard she told the raptured crowd, “We’ve reached a milestone in our history.” Clinton was, of course, referring to securing the nomination as the first female nominated by a major party for the presidency. It was a speech that one Tweeter described as, “fiercely fuck you feminist.” Other women were quick to share about the “tears in their eyes.”
This election cycle it is impossible to ignore the gender politics, or what Trump calls the “woman card,” arguing that Clinton would receive less than 5 percent of the votes if she “were a man.” But what would a win really mean, both symbolically and otherwise? And does the win mean something different to different generations of women?
Hillary is divisive. She is currently under FBI investigation. Her campaign has accepted contributions from NRA lobbyists and Wall Street. There are many who believe all of her decisions and flip-flopping on issues are simply manipulations to achieve political gain. Opponents call her crooked, corrupt, and out for herself. Then there are others who believe her track record of defending women’s health and reproductive rights, ensuring equal pay, and fighting for paid family leave and affordable child care is progressive, unwavering, and tireless. During her time as a Senator she championed gender equality legislation, including introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed to give women the tools they need to fight workplace discrimination. More are split on what one of her aides referred to as a "muscular brand of American foreign policy." Her activist approach backed Gen. Stanley McChrystal to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. She supported the Pentagon’s plan to leave behind residual force of 10,000 to 20,000 troops in Iraq. She pressed for the United States to funnel arms to the rebels in Syria’s civil war. Nor does she shy from military entanglements but rather has an “appetite for military engagement abroad.” It’s what many liberals cite as their main source of distrust-- her “textbook view of American exceptionalism.”
For every #ImWithHer, there is an equally loud and resounding #NeverHillary.
Over the next few months as we wind closer to Election Day 2016, we will be sharing the thoughts and hopes from women of various generations and backgrounds on what a Hillary win-- and more generally, a female POTUS- means to them.
Name: Antoinette Nolan
Born: Seattle, WA
I was born right after World War II so am among the first of the baby-boom generation. My parents always expected me to excel and go to college but there their expectations diverged dramatically. My dear, wonderful dad told me to have a good time and get a good education but not to worry about grades because I would find a husband.
Fortunately, he didn't say that was the only reason I was going to college. My much-more-forward-thinking dear, wonderful mother told me to work hard and graduate with the ability to support myself. She wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer. I didn't do exactly what either one wanted or expected. I did get married. I raised three daughters. And almost my entire adult life, I have held jobs that I thoroughly enjoyed and would have allowed me to support myself, but I never felt the need to get a professional label. In their own way, both of my parents positioned me to embrace the women's movement whole-heartedly. I was never told that a woman's abilities were limited or that a woman could not think for herself or that a woman was a second-class citizen. My parents' gift to me was belief in myself as a whole person with the freedom and skills to create a life of my own choosing.
"I was never told that a woman's abilities were limited or that a woman could not think for herself."
I am thrilled with the thought that we might have a woman president. To me, this has always been in the same not-in-my-lifetime category of miracles as the Catholic Church accepting birth control or women priests. I wish I could say I think the election of a woman will unite the country or stop back-biting and hate mongering or foster cooperation or bring progress on the issues facing our county and the world. Hillary Clinton is brilliant, pragmatic, skillful, authoritative and uniquely positioned to be an outstanding President so I hope she can be a catalyst for change and progress. She's decisive and confident and isn't afraid of being tough, so I wouldn't worry about her getting pushed around by aggressive behavior of other leaders. I think her own heartbreaks give her empathy with the suffering of others. She's a great model for women but all those qualities make people hate her. I think if we elect a woman President, the feeling of exhilaration for women will be like when we got the right to vote. Finally women will have living proof that we can achieve anything. It's ironic that it's taken almost 100 years after women got the vote for us to finally have a chance to vote for a woman. The misogyny in this country is discouraging and frightening. There's already "news" that Hillary was somehow connected to the Orlando murderer.
My fear is that all the people who hate her will try to stop everything she does and it will be even worse than with Obama. I can't imagine people saying the same things about a man as they say about Hillary or a man being bullied and excoriated as Hillary has been. Not even Trump has been treated so badly. Hillary is a target for everyone's rage, dissatisfaction, and despair. Her decisions on foreign or domestic policy are likely to be wildly criticized simply because she's a woman. I'm fortunate that the men I work with want to work with competent people, be they women or men. That's not the case for many, many women in either their work or private lives.
I hope Hillary's domestic policy will include equal pay for the same job, living wages, and child care, issues that disproportionately affect women. Men will really hate her for it and she will be accused of trying to ruin families, take jobs away from men, bring wages down overall, etc. It might make things worse for women. I hope in foreign policy she will be wise. Obama has been careful and taken calculated risks, plus he's acknowledged US wrong-doing. That's angered people who believe one should never apologize. Hillary is unlikely to apologize and be more hawkish so she should proceed more deliberately. Sadly, the world is more dangerous than it was at least during Obama's first term. She would probably do well to schmooze with foreign leaders more than he did. Thoughtful people will appreciate a wise leader.
Internationally, I hope Hillary will work for peace through diplomacy and non-violence, but most Americans don't believe in a Gandhiesque approach. Domestically, I hope she will be able to build consensus and tackle substantive issues, focus on justice for Americans of all colors, creeds, classes and abilities, and be the point person for women and men to embrace our interconnected world.
I hope Hillary Clinton's legacy will be belief in ourselves as a united nation made stronger through collaboration and for women in particular, recognition and acceptance that each of us is a whole being worthy of the freedom to make her own choices and reach for her own stars.
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