Being a Woman After Hillary Clinton’s Loss

I’ve been fairly political for most of my life. The first election I really paid attention to was Al Gore versus George W. Bush in 2000. (So you probably understand my skepticism of the electoral college at this point.) I proudly voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. I was definitely not so naive to think that Pres. Obama’s election marked the end of racism in this country, but it felt like a shift. We were finally coming to grips with our diversity and how strong it makes us. I’m sure you remember; it was a happy time.

But even as excited as I was for Pres. Obama, I didn’t feel as invested in a campaign as I did this year. It was nasty at times – and increasingly so as the election season wore on – but I wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. I didn’t realize how much at first, but by the end of the campaign I practically needed her to be president. I wanted it so much it hurt. I felt I – and all the women and girls in the country – deserved to have someone who looked like us leading the nation.

Needless to say, the evening of November 8 was hard. I compare it – unironically and without exaggeration – to the death of my mother. Much of it had to do with the fact that we as a nation elected an overt racist and misogynist to the highest political office in the country. But it wasn’t only that. We as a country didn’t just elect perhaps the most unqualified candidate ever to the presidency. We, as a country, rejected a woman who is perhaps the most qualified candidate ever for the presidency.

That hurt.

Hillary Clinton spent decades in public service, accumulating the experience necessary to lead the country. You can disagree with her on policy, but it’s hard to argue in good faith that Clinton was an unqualified candidate. She had to deal with an undeserved reputation for being dishonest and corrupt. There must be something wrong with a smart and tenacious woman who asks for power.

I’ve spent most of my life in male-dominated fields, first law and then astronomy. I spend most of my time as the only woman in the room. Unless you live it, it’s hard to explain the ambient stress it causes. I’m the token girl in the group. I didn’t sign up to be a representative of my group, but that’s the situation I find myself in. I have to battle stereotypes that say that I’m less logical than men, or that I’m bad at math because I’m a woman.

Because I’m the only woman in the room, it becomes my job to counter these assumptions about my gender. I feel a responsibility to be great – no, damn near perfect – so the men in my class won’t make spurious assumptions about other women they will encounter in their professional lives.

I never meet these expectations I put on myself. My circumstances set me up to always feel like a failure. But it also keeps me striving. Work will pay off, eventually. But on the evening of November 8 it hit me that…maybe it won’t.

Hillary Clinton is possibly the most qualified candidate for president we’ve ever had. In the end, it didn’t matter. She lost to a candidate who lies like he breathes and stokes racial animosity like it’s nothing. Her brains and her work ethic were all for nothing.

I sat in my living room on election night and, as the mythical “blue firewall” fell, I cried. I cried harder than I had in a long time. We may never know for sure whether sexism was a significant factor in this election. But I see myself in Clinton. I see all the times my contributions to a discussion were dismissed, while identical points were seriously considered when spoken by a man. I see all the times I’ve been called a bitch for standing up for myself. And I’m afraid that I see my future. A future where I can work the hardest, be the smartest person in the room, and still come in second.

Because if Hillary freaking Clinton can’t make it work for her, what chance do I have?

Photo Credit: Marc Nozell via Flickr

211 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Lisa V
Lisa Vabout a year ago

This loss was the biggest blow to the feminist movement since Phyllis Schlafly.

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Trish K.
Trish Kabout a year ago

Being a woman after Hillary's loss , I feel like we are going back to the 40's and 50's when we could vote but we had no say in politics or a voice outside of 'the family', once again we are subjugated to the standard of old white men knowing what's best for us and the world. They were wrong then. They obviously didn't expand their consciousness by accepting strong , educated women. This new administration will dehumanize us in every way. It makes me sad to see a country regress instead of going forward in a time when we stand to loose if we don't keep up with the world. Peace be with Hillary - the system is rigged.

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Elaine Al Meqdad
Elaine Al Meqdadabout a year ago

THAT WAS HITLARY'S DOWN FALL, SHE HAD NO PLANS OTHER THAN TO ACT LIKE A MAN IN A WOMAN'S PANTSUIT!

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Elaine Al Meqdad
Elaine Al Meqdadabout a year ago

I'M STILL A WOMAN, EXCEPT I'M A DAMN HAPPIER WOMAN OVER TRUMPS "LANDSLIDE" VICTORY!!! WE HAVE OUR COUNTRY BACK!!!

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Mari 's
Mari 'sabout a year ago

SHe didn't lose anything she won by the popular vote. She didn't lose it was stolen away from her.

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Deborah W.
Deborah Wabout a year ago

If the packaging (female) and not the internal content represents you to the extent that the loss of that visual is as tragic as the death of your mother you either need help or you didn't care too much about your mom.

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Tom M.
Tom Mabout a year ago

The majority of people who voted, voted for Hillary. There are more of us than them. We'll win, eventually. Man and woman alike.

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Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Yabout a year ago

At least we re-elected Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader in the House. Our first female Speaker of the House. We're very proud of her here in California. And of our veteran Senators Feinstein and Boxer, who have served on so many Senate positions of major importance to our military and foreign policy.

I'd like to see Diane Feinstein run. Some say she's too old school, but I disagree. She's a very dignified veteran of decades on Senate Committees on Intelligence, the military and Foreign Service. She lives and breathes gravitas, and would make a superb President.

Look for Hillary again in 2020, she's a fighter. And, we also have other very qualified female candidates who might run, such as Senators Warren or Klobuchar and, in my humble opinion, Dianne Feinstein.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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