President not princess. Win or lose, Hillary Clinton will influence a generation of women
If you write about gender and politics, there is no bigger moment than Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman to accept a major party nomination for president. Even Bernie Sanders would say this is huuuuge.
As a columnist, I felt the pressure to produce something that would stand out in a sea of @HillaryClinton pieces during the Democratic National Convention. So I have been thinking about it for weeks on how I could capture this milestone. What I couldn’t get out of my head was this: Anecdotes about the parents who kept their daughters up in 1984 to watch Geraldine Ferraro become the first female vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket. I thought: Wouldn’t it be great to find a little girl who watched Ferraro’s speech, and now has a daughter of her own and will together witness Clinton accept the nomination?
Well, these people exist. I found @JennyArmini who will be glued to the TV with her 10-year-old daughter, Sydney, watching the DNC. Here’s an excerpt from my Wednesday column:
With her mother’s permission, Sydney Armini, 10, will be up Thursday night to watch Hillary Clinton make history as the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination for president.
“There could finally be someone besides a guy who is the head of our country I can look up to,” the Marblehead fifth-grader said. “I can think of being her. I can’t think of being a guy.”
Lost in the sturm and drang over Clinton’s candidacy is just how extraordinary it is. She could be our next commander in chief, breaking up the all-male club that has lasted more than two centuries.
It’s a moment when many parents will insist their daughters tune in to the Democratic National Convention so they can witness what’s possible for women in this country. It’s a milestone, perhaps a turning point, worthy of us setting aside our politics to soak it all up. You don’t have to support her to appreciate how Clinton has taken a hammer to what she has famously called the “highest, hardest glass ceiling.”
This is how Sydney’s mom, Jenny, remembers the Ferraro moment:
Jenny Armini was only 14 when the New York congresswoman became the first woman to accept the vice presidential nomination of a major party, running on the Democratic ticket with Walter Mondale.
Armini was raised in a Republican household, but the significance of Ferraro’s candidacy was not lost on her or her parents.
“I remember it vividly,” said Armini, now 47, who grew up to become a speechwriter for then acting governor Jane Swift and others. “We were a Reagan house. We weren’t necessarily cheering her on, but this was a moment, and we were going to watch it.”
What I also love about the Arminis: The “President not Princess” sign that hangs over Sydney’s bedroom closet. Her parents had that sign made when she was born. What a powerful — and prescient — message. (You can see the sign in the photos with this piece.)
I found other mothers too who will keep their daughters up to witness Clinton’s barrier-breaking moment. Like Anjali Chitre, a 37-year-old Boston-area lawyer who is also a mother of two daughters, Jaya, almost 2, and Asha, almost 5. Jaya is too young, but Chitre will have Asha watch Clinton’s acceptance speech. Like the candidate, Chitre is a Wellesley graduate, and she has met Clinton on the campaign trail.
“I really think modeling behavior in media and government is so important,” Chitre told me. “I want my daughters to realize they can do anything and be anything they want.”
Thanks to all who helped me collect mother-daughter stories, especially @jessemermell who introduced me to both Armini and Chitre. I couldn’t fit everyone in my column, but it’s nice to know when a hunch is true.