You Cannot Call Yourself a Feminist and Tell Hillary Clinton Not to Tell Her Story

Photo Source: CBS news, Democratic National Convention 2016

You cannot claim to be a feminist and tell another woman that she cannot tell her story. In the world of activism storytelling is the most powerful tool that we use to connect people to the movement. We connect through the relatability of the shared experiences that we all have, and we try and understand those experiences that we haven’t had. The active decision to listen to another person’s story is a beautiful and empathetic form of activism that should never be overlooked. That is why I am asking you to listen to Hillary Clinton’s story and stop telling her to “shut up”.

There have been numerous articles coming out about how Hillary Clinton releasing a book about her experiences as a losing presidential candidate are “selfish” or just generally useless at this point in time. As someone who voted for Hillary Clinton I preordered her book without looking into what the book was about, but once I realized that it was titled “What Happened” I have to admit I sighed a little. As a graduate student who is majoring in Political Science and someone who works in the political realm I thought I knew exactly what had “gone wrong”. But this is where I was wrong, there is always more to learn from someone else’s experiences, story, and perspective.

The reports that I have read about what “exactly went wrong in the 2016 election” does not paint America in a pleasing way. It showed me that Americans gave into the temptation of hatred, racism, and fear. The truth is that it was hard to be optimistic when looking at reality. It’s easier to turn that reality off and ignore that it ever happened. Turn our backs on that America, and also lash out in anger at any memory of that reality, but we can’t keep doing that. Hillary Clinton once said “If you love something you don’t walk away from it, you help it”. Hillary Clinton saw that America too, and she has a story to tell.

With the announcement of What Happened I was a little skeptical, because I was worried that with it we would have to relive the Election Night again. But of course, once again, this isn’t entirely about me. This isn’t about what I felt on Election Night. This is about the historical victory of the first woman ever winning a major party nomination, winning the popular vote by over 2 million votes, and living through the grief of one of the dirtiest elections since Watergate. I want to hear her story. I want to know how she went on after that.

When the movie Game Change came out, which was about Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin in the 2012 election, we all went and watched it. Why? Not because we were all Sarah Palin super fans but because in her own right Sarah Palin made history in that election and we wanted to hear that story.

As women we complained that our stories weren’t told in history books enough. Our stories have been silenced, kept off the record, and neglected for centuries. Women are starting to make history now by telling their own stories and documenting the times and creating their own narrative and by telling them to “go away” and “shut up” we are silencing them. We are erasing them from the history books that are being written for our children one day.

Although that Election Season and that night is so fresh in our minds there are generations after us who will ask “what happened” or “what was it like to have the first woman run for president” and we need to have that story documented. The truth is that we all marched to have that story be told, and we will keep marching. The storytellers will be people who will keep that history alive and as activists we all have a role in protecting everyone’s right to tell their story, and we can start now with Hillary Clinton’s.