Let Her Speak: Why Hillary Clinton is More Relevant Than Ever

Regardless of whether you love Hillary Clinton or hate her, the truth is this:

Hillary Clinton has been the standard-bearer of women working the US legal and political system for nearly 40 years. And for nearly 40 years, people have been telling her to sit down and shut up.

While I was trying to write about this without resorting to copious usage of the word f*ck, I came across a FB post about another woman. A woman who, outraged at listening to a male moderator explain scientific theory over the top of the expert who actually held those theories, stood up and demanded he let her speak.

Let her speak.

The FB post resounded with many women, perhaps the same way the continued vilification of Hillary Clinton resounds with me.

It resounds because it’s familiar. It’s a familiarity that starts as a tingle in the back of your throat, a nudge from some deeply rooted memory. And as that seedling of familiarity grows, it becomes something else. Sadness. Anger. Despair. Frustration. Because while not every single woman in the history of womankind recognizes the humiliation implicit in being told to sit down and shut up, a lot of us do.

It happens in ways that are obvious, and in ways that are not so obvious. Blatantly condescending and subtly patronizing. So subtle at times you doubt your own senses.

Did that just happen?

Did that person just imply what I think they did?

We ask other women, am I imagining things here?

And the answer is no, we’re not imagining it, and yes, they said what you thought they said.

Despite the constantly repeated narrative to the contrary, Hillary Clinton is a hero to many women. No, not all women. And yes, plenty of men. But let’s be clear, there are millions of women who still support her. And just like during the primaries and the election season, when the press didn’t bother to seek out comments from those with full-throttle support of Hillary Clinton the candidate, right now they’re not seeking out comment from those who most assuredly do not want to see Hillary Clinton sit down or shut up.

Once again, the voice of millions of Hillary Clinton supporters are being drowned out by those who are talking over us.

Let us speak.

Here is what I have to say: Hillary Clinton’s dogged determination to stay relevant, to stay in the public eye, in the face of her loss, is more important than ever.

Why?

Because Clinton is a lighting rod. Donning a cloak of super-human resilience, she has managed to stay upright in her crisp, white pantsuit. She refuses to back down, to go away, and, to the consternation of the mostly male journalists who seem to write about it, to accept sole personal responsibility for whatever they feel needs accepting.

Love her or hate her, she is a woman of historic achievement and historical proportions. A woman who received more votes for president than any white male candidate EVER. Who received 3 million more votes than her opponent. As the first female nominee on a major party ticket she navigated uncharted waters because there was no course for her to follow. She IS the course. She battled racism, sexism, fake news, rumor and smear, and a disinformation campaign waged by a hostile foreign nation. And despite all of that, she lost by a margin of 70,000 votes spread over three states.

Even when she does apologize, it’s not good enough. Newsflash: in terms of Hillary Clinton, it’s never going to be good enough. The woman could die and they’d accuse her of not dying fast or well enough.

So, what does a woman have to do to be good enough? As the viral FB post illustrates, it’s not enough to be an expert in your field. It’s not enough to be overly qualified. It’s not enough to have proved yourself, time and time and time and time and time again, to wait your turn, to be the best person for the job, to be the smartest or the strongest or the most resilient.

It’s never enough.

So no, I will not stay silent when you tell this badass woman to sit down and shut up. Hillary Clinton, and Hillary Clinton alone is solely responsible for the surge in women running for elected positions. Her loss is responsible for the clarion call that went out on the morning of November 9th to women everywhere. No, not all women. And yes, men too. But let me tell you something: This is my playground, and I have never seen a mobilization of women like I am seeing now. There is a storm gathering force, the likes of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime. And Hillary Clinton is responsible for that.

This kick ass woman who has been forging a path as a political woman in the public eye for decades, and has been doing it almost all on her own. She has absorbed body blows that would have felled lesser politicians. At times, she has been felled. And she has picked her pant-suited ass up off the ground and stood up to face the next punch. And here’s the thing–by her continually doing that–still–she allows the next group of women to follow in her wake. Hillary Clinton created the goddamn wake.

She keeps taking the punches for the rest of us. I don’t know how she does it, but in the same breath, it’s not surprising. Women are resilient. They’re crafty when they need to be crafty. They compromise when they need to. Because that is how women have survived people trying to kill them for centuries.

Death in the political sphere is metaphorical. But it’s a killing all the same.

We love failed women. We love when a woman asks us for forgiveness, because it means the power balance is restored. But Hillary Clinton is not asking for forgiveness. And that infuriates some, on both the right and the left.

Not only did this uppity bitch think she could be president, but now she won’t even ask for forgiveness? Who the hell does she think she is?

She is goddamn Hillary Clinton, that’s who. Bad-ass-iest badass on the scene. She is zero fucks left to give Hillary. And to the consternation of some, there are millions of us who are still with her.

Scroll through the comments section on any article demanding she go away. Look at all the comments–no, not all women, and yes, some men–who don’t want Hillary Clinton to go anywhere. Who are still interested in what she has to say.

And no one is asking us anything.

They’re telling us, once again, they know better.

Ah…there’s the familiar sense of being told, in a condescending way, we don’t know what’s best for ourselves. That we must somehow be misguided, fooled, wrong, mistaken.

You’re not imagining it.

Let her speak.

 

 

 

 

If You See Something, Say Something

see-somethingWhen my kids were small enough for peek-a-boo, they’d sit, a chubby toddler hand across their eyes.

“Can you see me?” they’d squeal, peeking through their fingers. To them, the logic was simple: if they couldn’t see me, surely I couldn’t see them.

A year ago, I found myself in a situation with someone waxing lyrical about his perceived virtues of Donald Trump (which essentially amounted to not being Hillary Clinton). I racked my brain to find a way to rationalize his ideas so that I could continue to be in the shared space we found ourselves in. I couldn’t. So I stopped sharing the space. I stopped doing something I enjoyed because I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable.

That’s what women do. That’s what liberals do. We don’t, in the parlance of my kids, walk all over other people’s feelings. Sometimes women don’t argue for no other reason than a deeply embedded survival instinct. Generations of women can attest that an angry man is often a dangerous man. As I wrote recently, keeping your head down as a woman is not an act of cowardice or consent as much as it is an act of survival.

I’m not one to shy away from confrontation. In fact, I court it most of the time. But I was deeply invested in the idea of allowing room for diverse thought.

I say was because I was wrong. Because racism and sexism? That is not diverse thought. It’s hate. It is some sort of superiority complex masquerading as something else. There is no room for racism. There is no room for sexism. If you feel that your skin color grants you superiority, or the organ dangling between your legs denotes supremacy, if you feel the God you worship or the book of stories you choose to live by outweighs those of others then you are, quite simply, wrong.

I can’t stop anyone feeling those things. I cannot nor should I stop anyone from thinking them or speaking them. But I will be damned if I will not confront the ugly truth of them and let them slide in order to keep a one-sided peace. A one-sided peace which is often mistaken for consent and agreement.

Women are taught, from a very early age, to keep the peace, to compromise, to find a middle ground. We are raised with an unspoken understanding that our role is to make everyone else comfortable, even at the cost of denying our own needs and beliefs. Making those around you uncomfortable? That is to be avoided.

You put your hand over your eyes. If you can’t see it, it follows that it’s not there, right?

Except it’s still there.

I’m a white, heterosexual, middle-class woman. I’m very probably past my child-bearing years. Hell, I don’t even live in the US at the moment. The easiest thing in the world for me to do right now would be to drape something across my eyes and tell myself that confronting it will make everyone else uncomfortable.

But just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean it can’t see me.

 
After 9/11, the NYPD ran with a Homeland Security campaign which urged New Yorkers: If You See Something, Say Something.

As Septembers came and went, the cry became less urgent. The fear of terrorism became something you learned to live with as opposed to something that fell out of the sky one cloudless day. It became a tag line. Black letters running across the bottom of a subway advertisement, sandwiched in between Dr. Z and Brooklyn Community College.

letter-2
Close up of letter sent to mosques in several U.S. states.

If you see something, say something.

What I am seeing, since the morning of November 9th, is evidence of the resurgence of acceptable racism, normalized sexism, legitimized bigotry. A digging in of heels over systematic oppression. A backward sprint toward a notion of “I can say anything now’ in some imagined Trump-landia, as if the election of a president magically stripped away any pretense of civil rights, civility, civilization.

Uh-uh.

Now is not the time to cover your eyes and pretend it’s not there. Now is not the time to worry about making others uncomfortable. Now is not the time.

If you see something, say something.

If you see someone promoting or repeating racism, say something.

If you see someone harassing someone else because of their sex, say something.

If you see someone giving someone a hard time because of their sexuality, say something.

If you see someone targeted because of their faith, say something.

Too many of us have been peeking out from behind fingers. We enjoy the privilege of looking away because it doesn’t affect our day-to-day lives, or it does affect us but somehow we normalize it.

This is not the time for looking away. It’s not the time to bite our tongues in order to keep things comfortable. It’s not time to keep the apple cart upright and moving.

The apple cart needs to be well and truly upset. The apple cart needs to be overturned, dismantled, smashed and burned for good measure.

Liberalism gets blamed for a lot of things. But the one complaint about liberalism I agree with is this: we focus too much on inclusiveness. Because in our quest to allow everyone an equal voice, to include all, we left enough space for the nasty stuff to get in. We gave the nasty stuff equal weight. And now it is in danger of spreading like poison ivy all over the skin of a nation.

silence-is-betrayalNow is not the time for inclusiveness. Now is not the time to make allowances for speech or actions which serve no purpose other than hate. Now is not the time to consider the bully’s feelings, to try to understand, to use logic. Now is not the time to let silence be mistaken for consent.

Now is the time to peel the hand away from our eyes and confront whatever is in front of us. No matter how uncomfortable it makes us or the people around us.

 

This Vote’s For You

women-vote-nyc-gettyimages-459216385-1This vote’s for you, Susan B.

This vote’s for every little girl who was told math wasn’t for girls and for every young woman who was told girls can’t grow up to be doctors or lawyers or engineers, astronauts or Presidents.

This vote’s for every woman who has ever had to moderate her voice or been told what or what not to wear.

This vote is for every little girl who was told she couldn’t be Bat Man for Halloween and for every little boy who was told he couldn’t be Wonder Woman.

This vote is for every angry woman who’s ever been asked “are you on the rag?

It’s for every woman who has put her head down to survive.

And for every woman who was told college is wasted on girls.

It’s for every woman who died from back-alley abortions or because her life wasn’t considered as important as the one she was carrying.

This vote is for every young girl who was turned away from woodworking and put into Home Economics instead.

It’s for every girl who asked “Why?”

It’s for all the men enlightened enough to see that a world in which women are equal is better not only for women, but for men as well.

This vote is for every woman who scrubbed toilet stalls or stood on her feet ten hours a day or cleaned houses or worked a factory floor in order to provide for her children.

This vote is for every woman beaten, every woman assaulted, every woman touched against her will. It’s for the ones who were able to get away and for the ones who couldn’t.

This vote is for the women of Seneca Falls, NY, to the women who fought and died for my right to cast this ballot.

It’s for every woman who has endured a lifetime of small moments meant to belittle.

It’s for all the women who have come forward, especially the ones who have been doubted, shamed, or shunned.

This vote is for every woman who has had to write under the name of a man, who’s had her work overlooked, her contributions diminished, who has lost her rightful place in history books.

This vote is for every woman who’s had to work twice as hard to prove herself.

This vote is my mother who never once told me I was less than because of my sex. For my father who never shied away from telling me how proud he was of me.

This vote is for every girl who has heard ‘like a girl’. It’s for every little girl who knows, instinctively, it’s meant as an insult.

This vote is for every woman who came before, who chipped away a little at a time. For every woman who watched a dream fade away because others weren’t ready for her.

This vote is for every woman who has been called shrill, aggressive, bossy, bitch. This vote is for every woman who didn’t let those words stop her.

This vote is for every eye blackened, every bone broken, every woman killed.

This vote is for every woman who went first, who cut herself on whichever ceiling she broke through, who had to tend to her wounds alone because she was the only one.

This vote is for every little girl growing up in a country where she is still denied the right to be educated, where she is sold into marriage or trafficked into trade.

This vote is for my husband, who believes I can do anything I dare to dream. It’s for my sons, who will grow up never questioning the idea of a woman’s name on a ballot.

ballots-for-womenThis vote is for every voice raised against inequality, whether it is shouting or whispering.

This vote’s for you, Hillary.

The First Rule Of Hillary Club

130529144309-emily-davison-funeral-horizontal-large-galleryRecently I was added to a secret group. It’s a group of women (and men) who are #WithHer. And by with her, I mean with Hillary. But even more than that, they are with every HER that is part of the group.

Members run the gamut between long time Hillary supporters (raising hand) to those who swung their legs down onto her side of the fence after watching the debates to those who have been life-long Republicans who are broken-hearted, disgusted, or tired of the party they feel has abandoned them. Not just abandoned them, but actively thrown them under the bus. Then backed that bus up over them for good measure.

It’s a place of positivity, of sharing, of leaning in and shoring up. In the few days I’ve been a member I’ve read countless stories of mothers, grandmothers and daughters, of women across religion, class, color, age.

There are stories of women who fought their way out of abusive marriages. Women who have had to battle sexism in the workplace, in university. Stories of the little girl who had to fight to get the shoe salesman to sell her the boy’s shoes she wanted and women who had to reassure medical school boards that their husbands didn’t mind the fact they would be more ‘important’. Women who weren’t allowed to have a bank account in their own name…until the 1980s. Women who have been and still are held to different standards.

You read one or two or ten of these stories and they send a little trill up your spine. Sisterhood is powerful. Then you keep scrolling.

And scrolling.

And scrolling.636053770725830396-hillary

There are hundreds. Stories of sexual assault, stories of triumph, stories of woman after woman after woman putting her head down and doing whatever needed to be done to keep a roof over her head, to keep her kids safe, to keep food on the table, to stay alive. There are stories of fathers telling their six year-old daughters they could be anything as well as stories in which a father tells his daughter that despite her own sexual assault he’s still going to vote for a candidate who has been accused of doing the same to someone else’s daughter.

It’s bad enough when your political party throws you under the bus. When a family member has their foot on the gas? Is it any wonder the group is secret?

Another reason? Women who live in red states, who are terrified of announcing public support for Hillary Clinton. Women who in past elections have had their homes targeted. Who have been harassed because of a bumper sticker. Women who have been screamed at and yelled at, disowned by relatives, harassed online by ‘well-meaning friends’, accosted by strangers.

Over their vote.

And so they are doing what women have been doing since the beginning of time. Meeting in secret, like a coven of witches. Playing their cards close to their chest, keeping their heads down. They are staying out of the public eye, not because they don’t feel strongly or passionately, but because they are ensuring their safety, whether that safety is real or metaphorical.

The first rule of Hillary Club is it’s a safe space for women who have been threatened or intimidated for their choice, their voice, their support, their sex.votes-for-women

Less than one-hundred years after American women were granted the right to vote, there are thousands and thousands of women who need to keep their votes, and therefore their power, secret. Secret from husbands or fathers or relatives or bosses who at best, simply don’t listen, but who at worst, could do serious damage. One woman told a story of her own mother, whose mail-in ballot is controlled and overseen by her abusive husband. She is not the only one, not by a longshot.

There is a reason why ballots are secret. The fact that women are being harassed for holding a political view which dares to differ from their spouse or family or neighbors or employer or church is only one of them. And so just like our great-grandmother witches, women are keeping that power to themselves, unleashing it when they need to.

The need for secrecy is both surprising and yet not at all so. Women know their right to a ballot is powerful. Men know it too. It’s why it was withheld for so long. It’s why when the electoral map showed how the race would turn out if only women voted, #repealthe19th started to trend on Twitter. Smart men and women know they need to factor women’s issues into their politics. Smart men and women know that ignoring the power of those ballots is a risky venture.

b901114b65485711eb231144d41b3597At the end of the day , Hillary Club is overwhelmingly supportive and strengthening, blessedly free of words like Benghazi and Wikileaks and Bill. There are political discussions, pros, cons, concerns and discourse. No one believes Hillary Clinton is the Messiah. No one believes she is perfection wrapped up in a white pantsuit, her nod to the suffragette movement. No, Hillary Club is like hanging out with 100,000 of the best friends you’ve never met all in one place, with one common goal. But don’t be fooled. That goal is not only to elect Hillary Clinton, but to say, my voice matters too and my vote counts. Ignore it at your peril.

The last time I checked, there were 125K members of this secret group. And it was growing by about 6,000 an hour. And this is only one group. There are others.

If there is as big a gender gap in the polls as they are predicting, don’t be fooled. It’s not because the Democrats are recruiting the walking dead to cast a vote. No. For hundreds of thousands of women, the vote for Hillary Clinton is not rigged, but righteous.