I’m Sorry Hillary
I’ve been reading Men Explain Things to Me. It’s good. But so much qualifying. #NotAllMen. Some men. Also women. Yes, true. But can’t we just get to the message, the very important message, that men do a lot of talking, and owning (colonizing?) of things? Even when they don’t know what they’re talking about? Even when you know more than they do? Where does that false authority come from? And why do I feel none of it? Even when I’m the expert? And why does expert feel like a word that will never apply to me? Why do I feel the need to qualify everything I say? And back up every claim with an encyclopedic level of knowledge? Even in casual conversation?
And why am I afraid to share these feelings? Why is talking about the patriarchy such a difficult topic? It’s a phenomenon that permeates every last atom of our societal existence, fueled by the rich soil of masculinity. It feels like something I was supposed to leave behind in my college women’s studies class, like a discarded milk crate filled with cheap beer, and kissing girls. Just imagining a conversation about this with a bro makes me want to put duct tape over my mouth.
So, sorry Hillary. I thought I was ready. I of all people, the self-described feminist, who does actually, talk a lot about feminism and sexism, the local shouter of abortion rights, has yet to publicly declare my support for your presidency. I’m sure a lot of friends and family already assume I’m in your camp. But others could be forgiven for assuming I’d be a Bernie supporter. And I do like Bernie. I like his labor chops and his message of inequality. And for the record, I find you to be too hawkish and business-friendly for my taste.
But this isn’t about the few places where we disagree. This is about you being more qualified than just about anyone who has ever run for president. Definitely in my lifetime. And you’re on the left. But here I sit, on the sidelines, in my nondescript leftist cloak. I’m sorry. I really am. But I feel like I need to prep myself with every last fact and figure to justify my support. I feel like I need to be you, the consummate overprepared one, just to support you.
I’m already anticipating the backlash, the comments on my Facebook page. Because I am not like you. I do not keep vast troves of facts in my head, with statistics ready to fire at will. I’m writing this at a bar, with whiskey. Memory is not my strong suit. I wish I could be better. You deserve that. One of the reasons I want you to be president is because of your ability to do what I can’t. You keep going. You don’t back down. You know you’re the smartest person in the room and you make your voice heard. And it’s not just ambition (thought that’s perfectly fine, and probably a requirement to run). It’s because you have causes that you believe in. You, like me, care about women and girls. You’ve spent decades on it. You get the importance of gender equity. You know, all too well, what it’s like to walk through the world as a woman, the second sex. And you’ve taken those Lady Traits and used them for good: listening, empathy, creating communities and coalitions.
You’re playing a shit game with rules that may as well have been made in a urinal and you’re still leading. It’s a game built for the charismatic man, who can campaign on ideas and charm, manspreading effervescent authority wherever he goes. It’s a race that favors traits — and a shit ton of money — that may or may not serve you well in office. Campaigning is not governing. But you, you excel at governing. We loved you as senator and secretary of state. You got shit done. Even Republicans liked you. Or at least respected you. But let’s not talk about them. They’re about to nominate someone who may as well have been assembled with a stack of Hustler magazines and the towels from a 1970s boom-boom room.
I should speak up. It’s past time. Even if nobody is listening (always a possibility for women). If for no other reason than you’ve earned it. You’ve worked damn hard and for a long-ass time. You’ve been swimming in the waters of misogyny and keeping your head above water for longer than I’ve been alive. You know what it’s like to bite your tongue and pick your battles, regardless of how right you are. You know that so many of the rules of the workplace are unwritten and how nearly impossible it can be to navigate them while female. And yes, you get the importance — the necessity — of reproductive rights. For fuck’s sake, you talked about the Hyde Amendment. You get it. And you’ve got this, if given the chance. So I’m finishing my whiskey and I’m standing up in support of you. It’s ok if I don’t know every detail of your record, every vote you’ve cast and position you’ve taken. I know that you stand for women and girls, and communities of color. I know that you know more about foreign policy than anyone running. And I know that when you don’t have an answer you’ll listen to those who do. And I know that you care about people like me, women not taking a traditional path, people not born into wealth but people who care about a social safety net. And you get the relevance of gender. You better than most know that women don’t get to run in the same lane as men. Our rules, made by men and often enforced by women, are different. Remember scrunchies and headbands? Of course you do. You’ve been managing the sexist expectations of this country for decades and you still want to be president. That is amazing and that is worth not just my vote, but my support.