This morning I had my first cry about Hillary Clinton being the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States. I’m not usually a crier when it comes to history. I’m a hand-clasper, a nodder, and woohooer, and an enthusiastic clapper. I don’t often cry tears of joy, so this took me by surprise.
It happened while reading this op-ed from Gail Collins: What Hillary Imagines. At first, I was annoyed by the lackluster opener.
Hillary Clinton. First woman presidential nominee.
Deflated, right? Then I gritted my teeth at the seeming implication that HRC shouldn’t bring up “the first-woman thing” because it’s supposedly old news for young girls. (POI: my 7-year old daughter often questions why only men are on the diner placemat honoring US Presidents and if girls can be mayors and senators because all the mayors and senators she’s had have been men – albeit racially diverse men, so it’s not such old news for young girls.)
And I suppose I was still thinking about my daughter questioning whether girls could be mayors when Collins revealed what I already knew from Hillary Clinton’s speech last night: If Hillary Clinton could choose to go back in time to tell anyone she’d been nominated for POTUS, it wouldn’t be an historical figure — it would be her mother. And even now, typing these words, I tear up.
Hillary Clinton would want to let her mother know that yes, all those sacrifices of self and demeaning moments when she bit her lip and smiled when she really wanted to spit, when she straightened her shoulders and ignored lewd comments, when she got back up and kept going and taught her daughter how to shrug off insults and condescension, when she cried in frustration only after the door was safely closed behind her, when she defied discrimination by returning to work the next morning and refusing to quit, and when she made compromises to survive and endured physical, emotional, and spiritual pain while thinking of her daughter’s future — all that was worth it. All that helped build a steely platform that could hold the weight of history as her daughter claimed the nomination for the most powerful political position on Earth.
By choosing to share the historic accomplishment with her mother, HRC is choosing everyone who has gone through those moments. All those moments and so many more. And that, I think, is part of why it caught me by surprise and afforded me a moment of feminist weeping. I don’t want my daughter to experience the self-doubt and ego-busting moments I’ve had at work, in school, in social situations, on the street. I know she will. I know she will.
But now, with the ceiling close to shattering, it will be easier for her to straighten those shoulders more broadly and the smile in response to an insulting work situation can be much more knowing. A female president won’t solve sexism any more than a Black president solved racism. In fact, we can probably expect more of the scrambling backlash we’ve seen over the last eight years.
But for now, I’m celebrating the history — I mean — herstory of this election. Because it’s a really big deal. And it deserves unbridled jubilation. #ImWithHer