Whore Next Door: Running Up That Hill

Last week, I took my first trip to Sacramento to lobby at the state capitol. It was a grueling day of tense meetings and hushed strategic conversations about how to save the world — just like I dreamed it would be. The flags, the classic architecture, the sweaty stink of power wafting through the historic hallways — it all evoked a sense of romance. And why not? I love my country more than I've loved most men.

When I was in first grade, my teacher asked each of us what we wanted to be when we grew up. “The president,” I replied (with very little hesitation). I was also interested in acting and marine biology, but as awesome as sea otters are, being the leader of the free world sounded like the better fit.

I barely remember a time in my life when I was not aware of Hillary Clinton or certain that she would one day be the first female president, paving the way for my future run. For precocious girls in 1990s America, Hillary was a mythic figure, the chosen one who could shatter the glass ceiling once and for all — more akin to Hercules or Santa Claus than a flesh-and-blood human. She came into my life set to a soundtrack of lonely Lisa Simpson saxophone solos, serving as a beacon of hope for smart girls with strong opinions.

However, among my progressive peers, it's not at all hip to be “with her.” Everybody I know is “feeling the Bern,” including — bless their hearts — my aging hippie parents, who have voted for Ralph Nader more times than I am comfortable admitting publicly.

I've had hushed conversations with a few friends about our secret support of The Clintaur, but as we head toward the general election in November, I have felt the urge to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton.

I know she isn't perfect. How could she be? She has had to navigate a minefield of misogyny and patriarchy on her way to the top. But she has earned it. She deserves it. She's the most qualified, having lived through two terms in the White House, been twice elected to the Senate from New York, and serving as secretary of state. She is far and away the most qualified for the position — but when have qualifications mattered when choosing a man over a woman for a job?

People laugh at her ruthless ambition, calling her hawkish and a liar, but I believe those critiques actually say more about our own discomfort with women in power than about Clinton as a politician and candidate.

It's important to remember that in the '90s, neither the press nor the public warmed to Clinton, holding her under constant scrutiny for overstepping in her role as first lady.

It was common knowledge that Hillary was her husband's closest adviser. One person whom Katie Couric interviewed in a 1993 NBC special report said of Hillary, “The power that she has bothers me a lot.”

Later, Couric unabashedly asked the first lady why people have compared her to Lady Macbeth, and went on to cross-examine her about whether she authentically enjoys picking out tablecloths, why she chose to have her quarters in the West Wing rather than the East Wing (where first ladies traditionally work from), and if she thinks of herself as a “political liability” for her husband.

For all the progress we have made, America continues to have anxiety about female leadership, and still Clinton has persevered.

If she has had to deal with condescending Katie Couric interviews passive-aggressively attacking her femininity in public, I shudder to imagine what sort of harassment and snark she's dealt with privately with fellow politicians.

I hate when people say, “But I'm not voting for her because she's a woman.” Fuck that. The fact that she's a woman means she has had to put up with more bullshit and harassment during her political career than most of us can even imagine. Being a woman makes her more qualified for the job because she has had to work twice as hard as her male counterparts to get where she is.

And truthfully, I've been waiting for a girl to be president since the first grade. I've watched Hillary Clinton on her long and hard quest to the oval office, and if she doesn't win, well — I just don't know quite how I'm going to break it to that little first grader inside me that still has a silly dream about being president someday, too.

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