I will apologize up front for going off-topic for this post; but this blog is my one platform, and I cannot let this week pass without expressing my thoughts. This week marks the first time in U.S. history that a major party has nominated a woman for the presidency. I have heard many young women say “So what? Women can do anything they want.” That not only has been untrue in my lifetime, it’s not actually true now … and it is no guarantee for the future.
As a child, I watched my mother struggle in a country that did not grant women equal rights. She wanted to become a speech therapist, but the head of faculty not only told her that it was not an occupation for women – he told her that women did not succeed in his department. When my mother took a different path, and worked on getting her teaching credential, she was lectured on not wearing pants in the classroom. Skirts were the only option. Mind you, mini-skirts were acceptable, but pants were not! And that lecture came from a woman! Men have not been the only ones keeping us in a second class role.
My veterinarian graduated in a class of sixty plus, where only four were women. Even I have met my share of barriers. I once considered going into computer programming, but was told by more than one person that it wasn’t a field for women. Normally one to accept such challenges, I was already struggling against the odds in the horse world and decided I didn’t have the energy for a second struggle. Since that time, I have tried my hand at programming on several occasions – and have run rings around the men I work with. But even now, there are whole organizations dedicated to showing girls that they too can succeed in technology – and that field is still heavily weighted toward men (and some notorious harassment of female programmers has gone one, including gamergate). We are, by no means, on a level playing field still.
I have watched the scrutiny, investigations, and even harassment that Hillary Clinton has undergone for a quarter of a century. It has so permeated her public image, that there is now a whole generation that sees her only as a questionable public figure. Yet, should any of those who have targeted Hillary be put under the same microscope, they would stand up no better. We are all human, we all fumble, we all say or do things that may not look as good in the daylight. Most of us just never have it laid bare for the world to see. Even so, think about the things we do know about the likes of Donald Trump – and no one seems to be holding those things against him. So far, with all the time, money, and effort spent on trying to find Hillary guilty of something, not a single actual wrong doing has been unearthed. The same cannot be said of her opponent.
I am among those who believe that all of this extra scrutiny, and double standard of guilt, that has been applied to Hillary is based upon her gender. Sure, her husband was also a target while in office – but no one in Congress has demanded investigations since he left office. Any talk, on either side, of possible trespass by Bill is said with a wink and we move on. I cannot think of a political figure, in my lifetime, that has generated the truly crass name calling, and visceral dislike as Hillary – for doing nothing that couldn’t be pinned upon hundreds of other politicians. I read an interesting piece, recently, that showed how her approval ratings drop whenever she seeks power, and rise whenever she’s actually in a position of power. Women are not meant to seek power.
A common complaint against Hillary is that we “don’t know her” or can’t tell “who the real Hillary is”. Although I have never met her, I feel that I do know Hillary. I have always been perceived as cold, yet those close to me comment on how warm and generous I am. I see the warmth in Hillary. I have been hated or feared by people who have never even met me. A man I’d met once, very briefly, later came up and said I was the rudest person he’d ever met. An old boyfriend once went on an overnight cycle tour, and was regaled with stories about me from a woman who stated that she hated me … and we’d never met! Introverts are often perceived as cold, arrogant, unfeeling – when really we are just focused, usually with our brains churning non-stop on some problem of the moment.
I have been told by many, including professionals in the realm of human behavior, that I behave more like a man than any woman they’ve met. Is that a compliment? In our male dominated world, you would think it is – but it never works out that way. I have watched many strong women, including Hillary, do something no different from their male counterparts and be vilified for it. Why, in this campaign dominated by two men who seem to only know how to speak at shouting level, is Hillary the only one consistently criticized for her voice and her tone?
I recently watched a phenomenal BBC series, The Ascent of Woman. For those of you who believe that finally nominating a woman is “no big deal”, I strongly recommend that you watch this series. There have been numerous times, throughout history, when women have held power, owned property, and were the equals of men. Each of these periods is followed by a change in power structure, that sets women back to less-than-human-standing. Ground is only regained over centuries, and is hard won. In this, a country that prides itself on democracy and freedom, we are just now contemplating something that China did in 1968 – having a female head of state. We are also contemplating the election of a man who refers to women in terms of a number scale, calls them deplorable names, and references “bleeding from … wherever”. Don’t fool yourselves that we’d never hit another period where women could lose position and the ground we’ve gained toward equal status!
So, like Hillary or don’t. It matters little to me, or to her, if you personally like her. But, before you condemn her, please do some research and don’t just believe the tag lines that get thrown around. Learn what she has done to better people’s lives, and judge her on her accomplishments not her personality. I guarantee you that is all she would want.
In the end, support her or not … but please take a moment to appreciate that there was finally a woman head-strong and smart enough to break a glass ceiling that’s been up there for far too long!
Until next time, when I get back on topic …