C’mon Hillary // Crystal F. Nichols
I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain. –Hillary Clinton from the video Stand for Reality released by her campaign in July 2015
I felt my eyes bug out and my mouth fall open cartoonishly as I heard Hillary Rodham Clinton utter those words. I felt betrayed. I felt annoyed. Most of all, I felt disappointed. Here’s why:
1. Women should be free to be strong and have confidence in that strength. I was in elementary school when Hillary Clinton became the First Lady and I have always looked up to her since. She was not born into a famous family of politicians, but her hard work at Wellesley College and then Yale Law School set her on a track to achieve many great things. Looking at the lists of her accomplishments makes it easy to see that she is one of the most powerful and successful women in our country and the world. Many of these accomplishments are preceded by “the first female” and as such, she is a trailblazer for women everywhere. She has worked to better education, healthcare, and life for families in our country. All of this has been done with constant scrutiny from the media, sometimes against a backdrop of scandal. The thing about Hillary that is most inspiring is that she never gives up. She is strong. She is a strong women, she is a strong politician, and she is a strong mother and wife. It hurts us all as women when she is not honest about her strength and accomplishments on the campaign trail. If one of the most powerful women in the world is going around diminishing her success and pretending to be just like the rest of us, what kind of message does that send? Women have fought for so long to prove that they are equal and capable, all while having to balance family and career. Every time one of us has a victory, we all benefit. Please, do us all a favor and do not pretend to be just average when you are extraordinary. We the woman of the United States of America are under attack and we need a strong woman to lead us into battle. We need a leader who will not be pushed around and who is proud of everything she is, not one who pretends to be less than she is. We need the Hillary from the Senate Committee hearing on Benghazi. That Hillary was smart, resolute, and would not lie down and let others plow her down in the name of partisan politics. She was not just one of us, she was the best of us and she is the one who could lead this country.
2. By saying you are just a grandmother, you are alienating the people you are trying to gain the support of. I do not think it was purposeful, but this line really rubbed me the wrong way for all the mothers and grandmothers. For all the hard work she has done in this campaign to talk about her mother and the influence she has had on her, I have to wonder if her mother might have been a little hurt by these words if she were alive. On one hand she is trying to cover up her successful career and assert that even a grandmother can figure out that climate change is real and dangerous. On the other hand, she sounds as if that role means you are not enough. A better (and smarter) choice would be to lift up the women who are wives, mothers, and grandmothers, lift up the women who have focused on their careers, and lift up the women who have balanced the two. I am not just anything. You are not just anything. Hillary Rodham Clinton is most certainly not just anything. We are complex beings who do the best we can with what we have. We have fought hard to get where we are and this kind of language puts us into arbitrary groups in a time when our solidarity or lack thereof will change the history of this country.
So I would like to say this to you, Hillary: Just be who you are. That person is flawed and beautiful and resilient, just like the rest of us. We all have that in common. You are already more like us than you know.
Written by Crystal F. Nichols