Our First Female President Is Out There Somewhere – And She Is Watching

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By Jillian Stacia

The thing I keep coming back to is how Hillary Clinton must be feeling.

I am a privileged white girl from an upper-middle class family with little to no real political involvement, and I am absolutely devastated. I am in mourning. So many of us are in pain. So many of us are struggling to get out of bed and act like normal humans. So many of us are trying desperately to fall back on our kindness and be the bigger person.

And yet, on Wednesday, Hillary stood in front of the entire world and gave a humble, eloquent concession speech that called for unity. She was able to get out of bed, dry her tears, string words together, and congratulate Donald Trump. And the worst part? She apologized.

She apologized to us for not being able to win the election.

It was both heartbreaking to watch, and honoring to witness.

No matter what you think about Hillary, it’s obvious that she gave this election everything she had, every last bit. She left it all on the floor. And it wasn’t good enough. For America, it wasn’t good enough.

I thought that the media coverage would be a little more compassionate, a little more understanding. I was wrong. I found myself listening to reports of why Hillary wasn’t the nominee we needed. How she wasn’t able to electrify the country. How she didn’t give the people enough of a reason to get out and vote.

Essentially, in part, it boiled down to the fact that the American people simply did not – and do not – like Hillary Clinton.

And as much as it pisses me off and makes my blood boil, that’s probably the truth.

The question, though, is why?

I’ve adored Hillary since I was a young girl. I think I’ve made that obvious. As my sister once said, “no one likes Hillary the way you like Hillary”.

I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly feels like it sometimes. It was exhausting and draining to have to defend my love for Hillary Clinton for the past year and a half. It took effort and energy to show up for her, to defend her, to explain why I liked her, and try to convince people to vote for her. Not just because she was up against Donald Trump – but because she is a badass woman who deserves our recognition and our respect. Because she is the leader our country needs right now, in this very moment.

I think part of the reason I’ve been so fond of Hillary Clinton is that she is the ultimate underdog. Despite her qualifications, she is never on top. She always comes clawing and fighting back from the bottom. The woman has literally been torn to shreds by the media for the last 30 years and she still keeps showing up. She still keeps fighting. She still holds her head up high. You don’t do that if you’re not in it for good and pure reasons.

And yet, so many people do not like her. One of the most experienced presidential nominee we’ve ever had. A fighter for women and children. A history making candidate.

But, she is a woman.

And I don’t think that’s the reason why people don’t like her. But I do think that the American people constantly underestimate just how hard it is for a woman to be respected professionally AND be well liked. I don’t think the American people truly comprehend how difficult it is for a woman to run for President of the United States. That maybe the reason we haven’t had one yet is because it’s such a hard and somewhat impossible road. Maybe Hillary’s inherent likeability isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s the system, the culture, the way we treat and relate to women in this country.

Think about how Hillary got here. She’s been in the spotlight a long time. And when she first started, it was much harder for a woman to be taken seriously in government. Since the moment she became First Lady of Arkansas, she’s had to compromise who she was and what she stood for.

She was more or less forced by the media and the public to take her husband’s last name She was told again and again that who she was wasn’t good enough. Change your outfit. Fix your hair. Act more lady like. Give up your political ambitions. Speak nicely. Have tea. Stop doing this. Stop doing that. Stop messing things up. Stop being who you are. You don’t matter. Just stand here and smile.

This is what it’s like to be a woman, and every one of us knows it. Your mother knows it. Your sister. Your daughter. Your best friend.

We know because we’ve been there. What woman hasn’t changed something about her personality in order to appear more likeable? Who hasn’t tried to “tone it down” a little to be more attractive? To seem less threatening? We all have. We all do. Because that’s what it means to be a woman in this day and age. We push the boundaries inch by inch, and sometimes we give in, because we’re highly aware that if we push too hard too fast, the dam might burst and we’ll be right back at square one.

Hillary didn’t win the election because she wasn’t likeable. She wasn’t likeable because she struggled to be authentic. And she struggled to be authentic because she’s spent 30 years fighting sexist bullshit just to be able to earn a seat at the table and do what she loves- which is, by the way, helping people have a better quality of life.

Why couldn’t she just be real like Bernie? Charming like Obama? These are the questions I find myself hearing. Well, it’s a lot easier to be authentic when you have basic respect from your colleagues and the public. When you haven’t been told on a daily basis that who you are and what you’ve been doing isn’t valued or appreciated. When your looks and your actions and your mannerisms haven’t been scrutinized in the public eye for the last 30 years. When you haven’t been the center of every conservative conspiracy theory since your career began. When you are not the very first person of your gender to run for the highest position in this country and you have absolutely no roadmap to follow.

The truly ironic part? After she had scrambled and fought her way into a position of respect in Washington, after she has felt like an outsider for her entire career, after all that hard and seemingly impossible work, the public now  assumes that she is just another puppet in the establishment, just another Washington elite.

When in reality, if there was ever a candidate who understood what it was like to be disrespected by the establishment, to be dismissed, or rejected, or forgotten about because of their genetic makeup, it’s Hillary fucking Clinton. She is not the establishment. She beat the establishment. She proved that she would not be ignored. She worked the establishment system because, up until very recently, that was the only way in to the place she wanted to be, the place where she would be able to serve. The people of the establishment were the gatekeepers and she spent her entire career banging on the door and demanding entry.

Maybe you don’t like Hillary Clinton. And I’m not talking about all you “Lock-Her-Up-Hillary-is-Responsible-For-Benghazi-and-Basically-The-Anti-Christ” people out there (but kudos to you if you read this far), I’m talking about all you people that were lukewarm at best on Hillary and maybe even didn’t vote for her because you thought it really didn’t matter because she was going to win anyway.

I’m asking you to think about why. To really and truly think about what it was about Hillary that caused you to pause.

Because somewhere out there is our first female President.

I don’t know who she is and I don’t know what she’s doing, but I can assure you that she is dealing with some sexist bullshit because all women who are even remotely ambitious deal with sexist bullshit. I can promise you that people call her a bitch behind her back, that people objectify her body, that people hate the fact that she is a woman and she is in charge.

I bet some people – a lot of people – do not like her. And I bet that, in addition to advancing her career and trying to do her job as effectively as possible, she also doing the likeability dance. She’s playing that game that all women are forced to play where we try to appear professional but also likable. Confident, but approachable. Smart, but humble. It’s a dance. And it’s exhausting. And it’s hard.  And only it gets harder the higher you climb.

That woman is out there. She watched Hillary’s campaign with interest. She cried during her concession speech. And now, she is planning her future. She is getting to work. She knows that there’s a long and bumpy road ahead.

My question is, when that moment comes, will you be ready? Will you be kind? Will you show up? Will you make an effort to know and understand the unique challenges that it takes for a woman to be president?

Will you treat her better than you treated Hillary?

I really hope you will.


Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via unsplash}

2 thoughts on “Our First Female President Is Out There Somewhere – And She Is Watching

  1. lifeinarrghland says:

    She may not be part of the establishment but she represented it to millions of Americans mostly because she is married to an ex-president and lived in the white house. No amount of rhetoric and charm (or lack of) could surmount that.

    Like

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