I thought I would make it through the election season without posting a full blog post about Hillary Clinton, but I am having all the feels tonight and I want to write about it while I am feeling the way that I am. I know tomorrow is going to be a roller-coaster and I don’t want anything to ruin this moment.
I want to begin at the beginning of the 2016 election season, which feels like it was ten years ago. I loved Bernie because I am progressive. I felt the loss keenly when he did not take the nomination. I did not blame corruption or tampering. I understood why the Democratic party would push hard for Clinton. She was the Dem (Bernie was an Indie-come-lately) – it had probably been in the works since she graciously and sportively stepped aside for Obama in 2008. There are a dozen reasons I saw the logic in it. I’m more progressive than Hillary, but only by a little. I am ashamed to admit that I bought into some of the negative campaigns against her since as far back as her being FLOTUS. When the 2016 Democratic National Convention came and Bernie backed her, I had to adjust, but I trust him. I believe he knows he has a bigger picture he is working on, and that he’ll only be able to paint it if Clinton is elected. There is no room for Bernie Sanders in a Trump administration. That is not lost on me. Anyway, I watched the DNC – the whole thing, I have NEVER done that before – and I learned some things about Hillary that I did not know. Mostly her early biography, her speech at her college, lots of rad feminist kick-ass stuff. Plus, she had lots of friends from when she was young who she was still close with. That’s pretty amazing itself. Especially for somebody as busy as her.
So, tomorrow is Election Day. I voted early (last week). I volunteered for an HRC phone bank today – the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. It was a tiny contribution compared to all of the people who were showing up there every day. They even had people taking a bus (from DC area) to Philly to canvass on foot! I do most of my political battles on the Interwebz. I’m actually pretty decent at it. It mostly consists of demanding facts.
I am an active liberal, but I don’t talk about it much here. We’re supposed to separate out politics from our businesses, but I’ve always had a hard time with that. My art and writing has always been somewhat political in nature, about feminism, body positivy, and even my paranormal romance novel is full of underlying messages about those things. Those issues touch all of my work in some way.
I’m just letting this all flow out as it comes. I’m going to try and let it be what it is, and not over-edit it. The reason I wanted to write about this is because I have daughters. Nothing is more important to me in this world than my daughters. I am writing this for them. I am writing this for me, too. Maybe you can find some love in here for yourself as well. I’m happy for all of us.
I really want my daughters to understand, to fully appreciate, what an amazing moment in history (herstory) they are witness to and part of. It feels like all of the times I took shit for feminism, or just for being a woman who is not a doormat, is worth it right now. I want them to feel it deep and move them the way it does me.
I had a lot of self-esteem problems growing up and throughout the first half of my first marriage. We won’t get into why–there were reasons. It didn’t just happen all by itself. Terrible self-esteem is cultivated. Anyway, I suffered the usual street harassment, inappropriate touching, suggestive behavior, being talked down to, and threats that most women have endured. Maybe a little more than some have endured, but not as much as others.
I was utterly clueless in my late teens and early twenties that I was probably making less money than any men doing the same thing I was. I accepted that the barrage of disrespect towards my feelings and my body were just part of being female. I took it for rote that having emotions was considered a subtraction from my eligibility to be a leader of any kind, and I didn’t question any of it. I didn’t understand politics at all back then. I couldn’t even really get the concept of Republican and Democrat down. I feel like I was asleep to the world around me until my late twenties because I was so busy just coping with life. You see, owed to my self-esteem troubles I became pregnant when I was fourteen. I thought I knew what love and respect were. I didn’t. I thought I knew what I wanted in life and what kind of attention I wanted. I didn’t. But the moment I found out I was pregnant I decided that I was going to figure things out and take care of that baby. I took child rearing-classes. I took nutrition classes. I was careful to avoid cigarette smoke, alcohol, and to take my vitamins. I knew I wanted to be a good mom. And I have been that way since then.
You probably know already that however much I tried to prepare for being a mother at age fourteen, I was not ready for the emotional and political navigation that it required. I did the best I could. I missed a lot of things that women who had been alive a bit longer than I had would have figured out. But my heart was in it, even if society was against me on it.
As a fourteen year old pregnant girl, you get a lot of dirty looks and tongue clucks. It wasn’t lost on me that the young man (he was 18) who abandoned me did not have to endure the same scrutiny I did, even though I was essentially a child and he was an adult. Of course at the time I thought I was very grown up, but as an adult with adult daughters, I realize that while I did make the choice to have sex, it was really others who helped create a rich environment for my pregnancy to happen and the subsequent blame I endured, and he did not.
During my pregnancy I learned that a boy could stay in the National Honor Society, but that if a girl were visibly pregnant or found out to have had an abortion–no matter how good her grades were, or how much she put into her academics (even if she was raising a baby AND getting great grades)–she could be denied membership. My academics were not nearly good enough for The National Honor Society, but this did happen at my school not too long after I’d had my daughter – and it enraged me. “The boy can have as much sex with as many girls as he wants, but he can just be off the hook. Why is that fair?” I was utterly powerless to do anything about it. Or at least I believed I was. This was one of many lessons I would learn about how the world worked for girls. There were many lessons it would take me years to understand, and then I had to come to a place where I could absorb intersectionality, and LGBT issues, and so forth.
So, today I was watching a video that somebody made with The Fight Song Hillary Clinton has been using for her campaign. They compiled images of her over the years and set it to that song and I watched it, and I cried. The photo I chose at the top of this blog entry is in that video montage. (If somebody knows who to credit for the image, please let me know.) I chose that image because it really stood out to me. This moment of her on a beach somewhere, her hair blowing and her head full of ideals. A time before she would be accused of some of the most outlandish, cruel, evil things a person is capable of doing. A time before death threats and savage tweets and Facebook rants against her at every turn would flood through virtual space at every moment of the day. Whatever people who really hate her may think of her now, I don’t believe you could look at that photo and imagine you are looking at anything but a young woman with hope and ideals for the future.
I look at that photo and I see myself. Myself before I knew the way the world conspired against me or tried to make me something other than I was. Before I understood why I hated my body and how the subtle sexism and objectification infiltrated my young pliable psyche. The world tried to shame my body, or tell me I couldn’t be something, or didn’t even bother to tell me the possibilities. And even though I lost my innocence over those things, by understanding their reality, I am not sorry to be awake now, because that means I can help change it for my daughters.
Me, Me, Me
Some of the reason I have been quiet on my blog is because of how ugly, vicious, and threatening people have been. The Trump supporters have been utterly terrifying at times. Also, several have stooped to fat comments, or short hair comments. Which just really shows you a certain level of maturity. I’ve tried empathy. Sometimes I have seen videos of them emotional and crying and my heart goes out to them, because they really are desperate to recapture something they feel they once had and lost. I can relate to that. But I cannot have empathy for people who believe their skin color or gender makes them better and more deserving than somebody else. Losing the upper-hand isn’t the same thing as being oppressed, but it probably feels like it is. I can only guess all of that rage comes from somewhere, but it doesn’t make it good and healthy to grow a society. If anything, it ruins it. It also stifles discussion, because if one person is been intimidated and is afraid to even talk, that certainly stagnates civilization.
I am an optimist by nature. No matter how many times I am knocked down a peg (or two) I cannot help but see the hope. Sometimes hope is actually agonizing, especially when change comes slowly. And it has come slowly. But it has come. We may have a woman president tomorrow. And whatever happens tomorrow, there is no going back from that.
Hillary could have simply made money and stopped fighting for us. Shit, she could have done that straight out of Yale! She could have stopped growing at each mistake she made. I’m sure she has regrets. I do. I bet you do. She has made mistakes, we all do – but she chose instead to learn and grow, rather than spin her wheels in one place, or tell others they were wrong, and listened to why they might be right. I admire that.
I have come to a place in my life where I believe there are two kinds of politicians: 1-the kind who want to control you and 2 – the kind who want to help you. After all of my reading and fact-checking I have absolutely come to the conclusion that she is the latter.
The other thing I think that’s worth noting is that I do not think it’s a coincidence that social media is more prevalent than ever, and we have the two most hated candidates ever. Every. Single. Thing. Is a scandal. There is so much spin, I am swimming and drowning in information, and worse–misinformation. I don’t know what I would have done this past year if not for fact-checking websites.
I have roared many times, but I feel a roar so loud and so profound building in me that all of my sisters out there, you will feel it. And I will vibrate with your roars, as well.
Let’s all listen to Helen Reddy at least once tomorrow, shall we?
And don’t forget to join Pantsuit Nation on Facebook. It’s part of the reason I am so emotional today.
My Sister, My Daughters, Me