Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Note on that Glass Ceiling

... it's coming down.

Early this spring I wrote a hopeful piece about Clinton's bid for the presidency, her showing in the polls, and how the tradition of public opinion research supports her electability as a candidate. Since that time, Hillary's numbers and my support for the nation's first viable female presidential candidate have continued to soar (and yes, I recognize that I'm using biased and flamboyant language right now... I'm emotional).

Today especially, my support for Hillary was reaffirmed after watching footage from her Monday appearance The View. (Before you rush to say that I'm 2 days late, remember that I'm a full-time student with a 20-hour/week job and a campaign internship, so my View-watching is limited to late-night clip hunting on YouTube).

There still is a tougher standard for women, especially running for president. We’ve all been through it, in some way or another – where you go and you try to break a barrier, you do the best you can, and people are saying “I don’t like her clothes,” or “I don’t like her hair.” But I think we’re getting beyond that. One of the exciting parts of my campaign is how many people are so personally invested in this.

Everywhere I go around the country, there are two groups of people that I am particularly touched by. All these women in their nineties come to my events, and they come – they wait – sometimes they’re in wheelchairs or walkers, and they have their daughter or granddaughter bring them – and then when I’m going around shaking hands, they’ll say: ‘I’m 95 years old and I was born before women could vote. I want to live long enough to see a woman in the White House.’

The other group are parents who bring their children, particularly their daughters. After I make a speech, I go out and shake hands with everybody… I’ll hear a father or a mother lean over and say to their little girl, ‘See honey, you can be anything you want to be.’ I makes me get a welled-up sort of feeling, because my parents told me that. Not that it was true back then, but, we’ve broken a lot of barriers.

Say what you want about the relevance of political rhetoric espoused on a daytime talk show. Go ahead and question the Senator's anecdotes for their historical validity and criticize her for coming on to a women's program with a poignant message tailored specifically to that audience. I am already aware that the pundits are having a field day with Clinton's anecdotes. None of that changes the fact that I am incredibly touched by her statements.

Do I recognize that expensive message-testing and focus groups likely contributed to the poignancy of Clinton's words? Yes. Do I recognize that sex alone is not a reason to vote for a candidate? Absolutely. My support for Hillary runs deeper than her XX chromosomes, to those practical, "every day" affiliations that are so fundamental to identifying with a candidate. But Hillary's sex does make a difference to me, at least in distinguishing between the major Democratic contenders, and that's not something I can hide. Cheesey or naive as it sounds, I am proud to be a woman supporting a woman for president.


Vanessa said...

I like the anecdotes as well. Although I haven't been so tickled by Hillary (all I remember is that let's talk in my living room crap)--maybe I should youtube it. But there are brilliant women in academia that have inspired me in ways I am still trying to understand.

Vanessa said...

oh, and let me just say--I would like to drop kick the next person who talks about Hillary's clothes. I am just happy that I have not heard about her period.