At every celebration of an accomplishment in my life, my father — my biggest champion — would praise my intelligence, hard work and drive, then inevitably add: “If only you had been born a boy.”
Once, I pointed out the obvious: That would have been a step down. I’m more capable than men. I’ve given birth three times. But mostly, I rolled my eyes at my father’s machismo and walked away knowing that I was doing with my life what I wanted — despite all the ways in which he tried to rein me in, according to his time and place in the world.
But I’m done rolling my eyes at misogyny.
Women in this country have the highest ceiling of all to break through — the U.S. presidency — and it’s time to stop letting people shame us for being hopeful that Hillary Clinton will prevail.
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Clinton has more than proven, hands down, that she’s the most qualified candidate to be the next president of the United States. Her ideas and plans are meticulously thought out. Even back in 2008 her résumé was heftier than that of the man who defeated her, the junior senator from Chicago, Barack Obama, now on the campaign trail on her behalf. Instead of wallowing in that loss of the Democratic nomination, the senator and former first lady turned defeat into another opportunity to take a step closer to the presidency. The only thing brainier than serving as Secretary of State under Obama might have been serving on the Supreme Court.
But still, top-notch credentials haven’t won Clinton the respect she has earned.
Polls place her in a tight race against the simplistic Trump, whose claim to fame is mainstreaming hate speech. His ideas favor no one but the very rich and tribalist. Yet Clinton is only trusted slightly more than Trump. Only 35 percent of people surveyed by an ABC/Washignton Post poll released Sunday found Clinton honest and trustworthy. An amazing 31 percent believe that Donald Trump is honest and trustworthy.
This is the man who even lies about lying and gets away without meaningful challenge, not just from right-leaning Fox News, but from NBC’s Matt Lauer.
There’s only one thing that explains the state of things: misogyny.
After I saw the first Republican debate, so low-budget in substance and know-how, I could picture no other scenario than Clinton coasting to the presidency. How gullible of me. I underestimated the ingrained nature of sexism in American culture and its ability to creep into the national conversation in ways both surreptitious and blatant.
The coverage of Clinton’s bout with pneumonia is the latter.
The condescending way an infection of the lungs in the middle of an exhaustive, competitive campaign is being portrayed is the last straw for me. Trump withholds his tax returns with no repercussions. She’s castigated at every turn as secretive for not revealing the pneumonia diagnosis right away. We’re talking a couple of days.
“Donald Trump Seizes Hillary Clinton’s Absence to Press His Case,” reads the headline in The New York Times.
Read that: Woman misses work, she’s weak!
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour reported a strong historic piece about all the men who’ve been president while suffering from life-threatening illnesses in office — pointing out that the male press covering them kept their bad health a secret — and the headline that trends is: “Can’t a girl have a sick day or two?”
Read that: Can’t get any traction unless we descend to the girly.
Trump’s crass mouth should’ve disqualified him early on, but instead it gave him a win. Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment describing a sector of his supporters was treated like a presidency-breaking moment. Trump doesn’t have a former congressman from his own party, in a close race for his old seat, disrespecting him with a casual sexual remark as Miami Democrat Joe Garcia recently did to Clinton. Trump doesn’t hear supporters constantly assessing his likeability, because he should be, you know, warmer.
I was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton during the First Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994, and it was obvious she was overqualified to preside over the agenda of the hemisphere’s first ladies, a second-tier gig with more protocol than substance. Clinton — detail-minded and brilliant — made it feel consequential.
No doubt the two of us would have preferred to be where the real deals were in the making — and now she is.
Only, as my father would hold against her, she wasn’t born a boy.