Wednesday, July 13, 2011


It all started a few months ago. 

At first, it was just a quick little "Oh!" realization. Fleeting. Gone in an instant. 

Then, it started to bubble up into an unshakable dull ache, constantly plaguing my thoughts. 

Finally, it culminated into a "wake up in the middle of the night" nightmare leaving my mind flooded with regrets.

What was keeping me up, tossing and turning?

Well, and this is an "I shit you not" confession,  it was guilt coming to the surface about not even considering supporting Hillary Clinton in her Presidential primary race back in 2008. 

Now first, I'm not exaggerating when I say this was seriously bothering me for weeks.  And second, I had no idea why it was suddenly affecting me. 

Look at all that glee! (Me with
friends Brian and Cooper)
I passionately voted for Obama and attended his election night party in Grant Park with gleeful enthusiasm. 

Here is the Facebook note I wrote after that night:

Top Ten List from Being THERE!

10. Almost being tear gassed. (kind of) - we think the riot police just got bored because nothing really happened to cause it and they only released
a teeny bit. but still..we were right there.
9. Running into friends or seeing them on TV (Yeah Liz!) when we were in a crowd of 1000's! Small town Chicago!
8. Walking down Michigan Ave! So awesome
7. Booing Palin...sorry...i just can't stand her.
6. Not booing McCain...everyone was very respectful and wanted to hear what he had to say. I'm happy that he is a senator and I believe he is a good leader that will help bring the country together.
5. "I Love the Shit out of you America!" by far the best sign of the night and the fact that it was a bunch of college age "dudes" holding it up was just inspiring. Everyone can get behind Obama because he is everyone's president!
4. Experiencing the collective, positive energy of hundred's of thousands of people.
3. Being proud to be an American! We know what you meant Michelle!
2. Witnessing history, within a peaceful community, in the best city ever!
1. Listening to President elect Obama speak of his resolve to lead our nation through what will be a long and difficult journey. We are all in this together and we need to rely on ourselves to get us to a better place. I'm just happy we have a pretty kick ass leader to guide us!!!
Grant Park Election Night Photo
So much exaggeration! At the time, that was how I felt. I think it's how most of us felt. Full of hope, like everything was going to really get better. 

I fully bought into the hype of the Obama 2008 campaign. And I don't regret my vote. But, I know he is just like the rest of "them". "Them" meaning politicians, which means no matter what the message, they always use hyperbole and questionable truths when trying to convince as many people to trust them as possible. Which is exactly why I didn't vote for Hillary back in '08. She was one of "them" and I didn't like it. Even though none of "them" ever claimed to be anything but politicians. So why did I take such offense to Hillary when her platform and struggle mirrored Obama's in so many ways?

My college major was Politics and Government. Full disclosure (and embarrassing admission of this post): I voted for Bush in 2004 and right before he was reelected I cried during a small group meeting because I was afraid he would be assassinated. Yes. My political beliefs have 180'd since those days. I like to think I am more understanding of the other side because I was very much a part of their team once which has to be the whole point of my "conservative" period, right? ;) I am the perfect example proving change is possible in people when they are willing to listen and learn. I consider myself to be a liberal independent, although, I am hard pressed as of right now to find a decent Republican to shamelessly support. Politics have been important to me since I was a kid whose parents brought her into the voting booth. Flaws and all, I love our political process!

While I still keep up to date on all things political, I've noticed a shift toward apathy within myself that seems to be a result of the unfulfilled promises of the Obama administration and the rise of the Tea Party. But then I remember that if I allow myself to become too disillusioned, things may start to get really scary for people who look like me (women). Our health care and general rights over our own bodies have come under attack in the past year. Kansas doesn't have ANY legal abortion providers left and Planned Parenthood is still in danger of losing it's federal and state funding which would mean serious cuts for women's health NOT JUST ABORTIONS. These are real life issues that matter to me. So whether or not I'm tired about hearing what dumbass statement some idiot politician has made this week or who is the latest to dick flash the Internet, I need to keep myself informed so I can make the best vote possible to ensure these rights aren't lost. 

I like to watch Bill Maher. Please do not read that to mean I agree with everything Bill Maher believes. He is a comedian. But he makes a lot of good points about the way our government conducts its business, he has diverse and ultra intelligent panelists, and his jokes about American culture are very silly. Now. I have a major issue with Mr. Maher. The way he SOMETIMES speaks about and toward women. He sort of has a flippant attitude that I find annoying at best and at worst completely unacceptable. His greatest offense in my opinion was when he suggested that Elizabeth Edwards didn't need to out John Edwards so publicly just because he cheated her during his campaign, impregnated another woman, and lied about it, all while she was dying of cancer.

What the hell!? Good thing Melissa Harris-Perry was on the panel that day and responded to him with this little quip:  
‎"Indeed, she was not the "good wife" and thank god."
How could he say that? Well, his "woman problem" as it is being referred to by certain groups was pointed out to him directly this past week by none other than Ann Coulter. She called him a misogynist to his face. This peaked my interest because I really do like when I find a redeeming characteristic from a totally terrifying person, but alas Ann! You've failed me yet again after I simply Wikipedia'd you and read this quote you are credited with:
 "If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women."
Yep. A single woman who is a political pundit and a bestselling author holds the personal dream that women should have their voting rights revoked and then has the audacity to toss the M word at someone else. OK. I mean I know she is crazy and is mostly just shocking for the sake of being shocking, but come on!

This exchange has me thinking about what misogyny really is and how we all are guilty of it to some degree. Women included. It's just so ingrained within us, we don't even realize it. From the way we speak to little girls to the way women feel their bodies should look, we seem to take every opportunity to stealthily let females know we don't really care about them very much. I have even heard a lot of future mothers say they hope to just have boys because they are "easier". We all participate in the hatred and disparagement of women. Even in my own "Top Ten List of Being THERE!", I am lauding the crowd for booing Palin and being respectful of McCain. They were on the same team and contributed to the icky campaign against the President equally, yet I participated in the separation of respect they are given. Maybe Coulter should have called me the M word.

This is why I've been having pangs of guilt about Hillary. Did I make an informed, unbiased decision? Or did I simply buy into the shiny campaign slogans and graphics of Obama '08 just like any other typical American pro-patriarchal consumer? She has done so well as Secretary of State. I trust her and believe her to be in control of the statements she makes, which unfortunately can't be said of many of our political leaders. 

A friend of mine from college was visiting with some of his grad school friends and I made the mistake of verbalizing these feelings out loud. This is how the conversation went:
Me: If Hillary, the primary candidate, was like Hillary, the Secretary of State, I would have at the very least considered supporting her. 
Friend of Friend: You shouldn't vote for a woman just because she is a woman.
Me: Well, I voted for Obama and that is why I referenced the job she is doing now. I didn't say anything about her being a woman as the only reason why I would vote for her.
FoF: Ugh, she is the worst. They are the ones voting for all the wars.
Quickly, I changed the subject as any good host should. 

I think the "they" he was referring to was Hillary and Gayle Smith, who is on the National Security Council, and the part about "all the wars", I believe he meant Obama's decision to bomb Libya which was unfairly blamed on "Obama's women". And also, maybe Hillary's refusal to apologize for her vote in favor of invading Iraq back in 2002. Which is what many people believe contributed to her loss of the candidacy. Regardless, he was clearly uncomfortable by my semi remorse over my non-Hillary vote and I was frustrated by my inability to more clearly explain my position. It also made me wonder if anyone has ever said "You shouldn't vote for a man just because he is a man." Had I been more confident in myself at the time of the discussion I may have asked him that directly.
Luckily, I have been in a relationship with the Chicago Public Library since Kelly moved to LA and happened upon a book called "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Rebecca Traister. The title is complete nonsense because within the first ten pages I was sobbing on the El; missing my transfer stop; almost making it down to the Loop before noticing; thus making me quite late for work. I told you I was having intense emotions about this Hillary regret! This is why I love feminist literature; I'm not alone in the world! Or crazy! There are more of us out there and the more we share the more we connect. (Plug moment! Support your local feminist book store if you are lucky enough like those of us in Chicago to still have one!)

Traister was a political reporter for Salon during the '08 primaries and subsequent election. She saw everything play out from inside and, per usual, things were not always as they were reported. She began as a supporter of John Edwards, thinking like me, "No way in Hellary!". However, she saw the misinformation given by the media about Hillary and her "lack" of supporters first hand. She pulled just as many hopeful, enthusiastic, congregants as Obama, her campaign just didn't have the same swagger and easy marketability. And, she was poorly advised to play down the "woman thing".    

Winning the Arkansas Governorship
Hillary first entered political candidacy as an offshoot of her husband, not on her own accord. And Traister gives a poignant retelling of that entrance. When Bill lost the governorship of Arkansas in the early 80's, his campaign blamed it on Hillary for not taking his surname. She then became Hillary Rodham Clinton until his staffers just completely dropped Rodham. Her name was overtaken by her husband's career. She was also pressured to take a leave of absence from her law firm to assuage any worries Arkansas' electing public may have had about their nontraditional first family . 

Once Bill was elected president, Hillary was expected to take over the traditional role of entertaining and socializing like a typical first lady. But she could never have been a typical first lady because she had worked hard for her own career. Giving that up wasn't something she or her husband felt to be beneficial for the nation. She fell in line where she needed to, like publishing a children's book and other first lady projects of that nature, but her work within the government on health care reform was unprecedented. That is why she was so feared. She was tough, she was different, and she wasn't bothered by the fact she was a woman. 

Generally, we don't really like women who aren't concerned about what their role should look like. Even though I think what Maher said about Elizabeth Edwards was atrocious, it seems to be what we would prefer to see in our male politicians wives. We don't want them to get too mad. In fact, no matter what their reaction, we tend to blame them to some degree for their husbands' missteps. That certainly is true of the way we reacted to Hillary during the sex scandal of the century some 13 years ago. Had she left him, we would have wagged our collective finger much like Maher did to Edwards. Since she stayed, we called her a bad role model for liberated women, hatefully ignoring all of her years of good work. 

These feelings of remorse over a missed opportunity to see a woman lead the country maybe don't matter much for me in my life since I believe I will live to see a female president someday. But in the past year I have come to see Hillary in a different way and that has affected my idea about what it means to be a woman working for change. Her entire life has been dedicated to chipping away at the glass ceiling, which is difficult work to say the least. Our (the feminist community's) dissatisfaction with her in '08 was due to our unfair expectation that the first woman president should have a spotless record, free from disappointment. We want someone to completely shatter the ceiling in one fell swoop. That's unrealistic and isn't the way real lasting change happens.

She didn't win the presidency but she continues to blaze a trail for the rest of us that will benefit countless generations. She has given her life to public service because I believe she really cares for our country and women all around the world. Like them or not, there are at least two women who may have a real shot at the candidacy in 2012 for the Republican party. In a country that prides itself in the belief that anyone can work to become president, Hillary has worked to make that idealistic notion a reality for those who choose to follow her. I'm behind her 100%.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post! Initially I was not that big of a Hillary fan but, respected but didn't particularly like but over the years and more research on my part and this info from you has made me a big fan of the Hill-Dawg.