if i had a daughter

I grew up a tomboy with four older brothers and a sister, all children of a strict, working father and a stay-at-home mom. Dad and Mom raised us all to be self-sufficient. There was no division of labor between boys and girls. We all ironed clothes, washed dishes and mowed the lawn. Dad spent hours under the hood of our cars showing us how to tend to an engine, change the oil, lube the bushings and change a tire. Dad taught me how to defend myself against would-be attackers, because he knew that women are targets. I wasn’t afraid of boys, and I held my own in playful brawls with my brother—my small size, speed and agility were to my advantage.

In junior high I was one of two or three girls in my science and shop classes, and I earned a varsity letter in swimming. In high school I managed the boy’s swim team, was a lifeguard and played on a co-ed water polo team as one of the faster swimmers. I became the head coach of a summer league swim team, taking it from the bottom of the league all the way to second place in the champs. The job paid well enough to enable me to put myself through college. After college I backpacked solo through Europe for seven months on a shoestring budget. I grew up feeling as though I could accomplish anything if I simply desired it enough and was willing to put in the hard work.

Then I entered the work force and, though I was eventually promoted from every starting position, I began to see inequity between the sexes. It was the first time I’d heard the sorry news that women made about seventy cents for every dollar a man took home. I worked in the garment business, and though it is an industry largely made up of women, most at the top are men. At one of my jobs I was privy to the company salary information, and I saw for myself the discrepancy in pay between my male and female colleagues, even though the company was owned and run by a woman.

I always dreamed that if I had a daughter, I’d raise her to be confident, assertive and strong and to defy the gender roles imposed on her by a patriarchal society. I’d show her how to stare down and boldly greet a row of lunching construction workers to best diffuse their hawkish glare and tendency to jeer. I’d encourage her to speak up for justice and not to act subordinate because of her gender. I’d tell her she is as capable as her brothers in most any situation and, likely, better in many. I’d teach her to be proud of her body and to call out those who would subjugate her because of her gender or the clothes she chooses to wear. I’d teach her the history of women’s suffrage and stress her right and her duty to vote. I'd tell her not to limit herself and to never give up on her dreams.

And if I had a son who could understand, I’d teach him all the same things. Alas, Calvin is incapable of such abstractions, but if he were, I’d like to think he’d be a feminist. Some of feminism’s best are progressive men.

I say all this because I think I did have a daughter for eight weeks or so until I miscarried, and if she had survived I’d be telling her why I hope a woman will be our next president.

Don’t get me wrong. I, too, feel the Bern, as Sander’s supporters like to say. He’s got a lot of bold notions and he's coming from the right place, it seems. But I can’t shake the feeling—not that I want to—that it’s time we finally have a woman leading our nation, as the face of the USA. Like I said, Bernie is fine and good, and the two have a lot of the same ideas and would likely accomplish similar things, but at this place and time when folks on the right want to take us backwards and rewrite history in so many ways—men trying to legislate women's bodies and limit our access to healthcare, for instance—I feel the need for us to crush that glass ceiling to smithereens. I mean, it’s 2016. C'mon people! Now is the time. Besides, we've clearly had our share of male presidents, some who've gotten things done, others not so much. Goddammit, for once lets show the world what a woman can do!

I've little doubt, coming from experience having been a girl and a woman all my life, that much of the hype, scandal and contempt against Hillary can be explained away as gross examples of misogyny, by men who fear and scorn her brilliance and power and by women who, perhaps, envy it. If you aren't sure, just watch an hour or two of the Benghazi hearings where lawmakers hazed the former Secretary of State for eleven hours, trying their best to wear her down and burn her at the stake. You will witness her formidable mind and resolve, her stamina, confidence and calm. In her you will see the makings of an amazing Commander in Chief.

In what some call a man's world, I'm tired of hearing assertive women described as bitches, sick of people like Donald Trump describing women's bodily functions as "disgusting" and other conservative politicians coining cruel terms like "legitimate rape." What the hell is that supposed to mean? I'm sickened by stories of women being abused in their homes, assaulted at work and attacked on the street, maligned by the sick likes of Rush Limbaugh, neglected by the work force, criticized for their attire, and of female geniuses lauded for their cooking rather than for their brains. I'm disgusted by male conservative politicians chipping away at women's access to birth control, cancer screening, family planning services and legal abortion when really, if men could get pregnant, it would be a completely different story. I'm so over the white male dominated film industry and the lack of important roles for women—and people of color, for that matter. I want the world to come into some sort of balance, and I begin to think it is possible when I hear people like Gloria Steinem speak. She says things like:

The more polarized the gender roles, the more violent the society.

And I see the gross level of violence in this country, and I ponder all the good that is possible simply by having a smart, amazingly qualified, determined woman at the helm.

As much as I like Bernie Sanders' idealism and passion, and for all that he may or may not be able to get done in Washington, he is yet another white male (not that there's anything innately wrong with that.) Consider, however, Ms. Clinton's wealth of experience with foreign policy and world advocacy for women and girls. All other things being equal, I believe Hillary will be able to accomplish as much, if not more, than Bernie, while at the same time being a beacon of what is possible for our daughters. She is strong, capable, brilliant and experienced.

If I had a daughter, she'd be about thirteen, and perhaps in a year she'd be looking at the President of the United States, seeing a face familiar in ways, and knowing—for real—that dream could one day be hers.

Originally published 2.1.16

Hillary Rodham (Clinton)


  1. hey Christy!

    I hope all is well; I could not agree more with your words about the inequality that still plagues our society, and it is time to put an end to it.

    I will be in fact voting for a woman for the top job of running the Country, but it will be Jill Stein. I was so hoping that Mr. Sanders would make it, in spite of the not so subtle sabotage he endured from the so called Democratic Party and - regretfully - Mrs. Clinton.

    She is a woman alright, but a bad person. She will carry on the policies that all those crazy white men have been carrying on for decades and will only guard their interests.
    This Country needs and deserves something better. That is why my conscience will not allow me to vote for her.

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    2. stefano, i beg to differ. i believe hillary is a good person who has been vilified for decades, and though she has been exonerated time and again, the shit that the republican establishment has slung at her has done exactly what they have wanted it to: it has stuck. as a woman and a mother of a disabled child who has a chronic condition, i do not feel i have the luxury—yes, luxury—to vote for a third-party candidate who has no chance of winning. in my mind, that would be reckless. i will not risk losing the hard-fought rights women have gained over decades. i will not risk the nomination of supreme court justices who will rule on the side of the conservative, white, male wealthy for decades. i will not risk the deportation, racial profiling, discrimination and continued oppression of my friends—immigrants, people of color, muslims, LGBT people. i will not risk losing proper health care for my child who has a pre-existing condition. donald trump promises to fuck all of that up. i will not contribute to the election of a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, incitful, fascist, narcissistic, impulsive, ignorant bombast like donald trump. the prospect of him as president is a dangerous one. a vote for jill stein may as well be a vote for trump. voting for her might keep your conscious clear on one level, but how will you sleep if trump gets the vote?

    3. dear Christy,

      Of course I respect your opinion and you must feel free to vote for whomever you believe is the best choice.
      I must disagree on your assessment though; the Clintons are not good people; one just has to look at the facts (not the propaganda pro or against them), it is well documented that they have been far from 'good' throughout their careers (i do not question their character, just their behavior while in office).
      They both talk a good talk (him more than her, and he ended up being a good REPUBLICAN president), and then behave very differently; their interest is with the money people who support them, not with the average people they claim to care so much for.

      Sadly, they are all the same; Mr. Obama was not much better than the rest, great eloquence and few results (I am aware that he was blocked at every step by a hostile congress, but he did not deliver on any of his big promises: there is no universal health care - he COULD have pushed for that, but instead went along with Hillary and her pals in the pharmaceutical industry, the disgraceful concentration camp in Guantanamo is still in business, he did not go after Bush & Co. for their war crimes, did not go after Wall Street, he increased rather than reduce the war activities,........quite a disappointment (and i did vote for him twice).

      I am frankly tired of our phoney democracy that offers a 'choice' between two sides of the same coin; it is time we say enough with choosing 'the lesser evil'; we, the Country, the world, deserve better than this.

      IF the so called Democrats lose this election - and chances are they will not, since crazy Drumpf will implode by himself, they have no one to blame other than themselves. Their behavior towards Mr. Sanders - possibly the only decent candidate they could put forward, AND the one with much better chances of winning the election - confirms once again that they are a corrupt organization that only wants to maintain the status quo.
      Hillary is the perfect candidate for that; she is the favorite of Wall St. and of many Republicans.

      In the worst possible case scenario, where the crazy fascist does get the job, he will NOT be able to do ANY of the stuff he promised to the morons who follow him. He is all talk and no substance! Discrimination, racial profiling, deportation are happening under ANY administration, unfortunately.
      We survived two terms of George W and his war criminal accomplices, and we are still here (I know, the poor people of Iraq and Afghanistan paid dearly for it, but so did they before, when Clinton's sanctions caused the death of about 500,000 Iraqis, or after, the ones who live in fear of regular drone attacks perpetrated by our current commander in chief ... the real problem is not who is sitting on the President's chair, it is the whole system!!).

      A vote for Jill Stein is NOT a vote for Drumpf; it is a vote for someone who wants to make a difference, and i am hoping that over time more people will start to feel this way. I will keep supporting Mr. Sanders and his movement, if he has the courage to detach himself from the so called Democratic Party - he did try to influence a change and unfortunately did not succeed, but he hopefully started a movement that could eventually reach critical mass and help make this - finally- the great Country it COULD one day be.

    4. dear stefano, though a lot of what you say might be true, obama did get a lot done while in office. as for universal health care, he probably knew he couldn't stand a chance so he compromised instead (but still had to force it through). and as for guantanamo and some of his other policies, if not for the republican congress thwarting him at every turn, he could have gotten more done; i do not blame him for those failures. as for the clintons, i still do not believe that they are, as you say, "not good" people. maybe you think i am naive. as for bernie, i think he has great ideas and has started a movement. we will see what happens to his so-called revolution. but in terms of bringing his ideas to fruition, there is doubt; he is not known to be one to compromise and therefore might have gotten little accomplished once in office (i think of the republican obstructionists as an example of that mindset ... not willing to compromise = gridlock.) more so, there is no solid evidence that he would have been a better general election candidate since early polling has shown to have little if any resemblance to the general election outcome. as for iraq, you can blame bush and cheney. i still think the most important issue in this election is the nomination of supreme court justices. for that reason i'm not willing to concede that third party votes won't enable a trump presidency. having said that, i do believe he will implode before we get to that place. at least i am hoping so.

    5. and there is this: https://hulshofschmidt.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/dear-hillary-how-very-dare-you/

    6. and there is this, stefano, which is more to my point: https://medium.com/@cshirky/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-protest-vote-c2fdacabd704#.i8biabayp

  2. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, thinking just as stafano60 does now, and I have had to feel guilty about it ever since....what regrets she will have if she follows this path! Don't do it, Stafano60!