Born under Ford and in elementary school under Reagan, I remember thinking presidents had to be old, white, rich, and, most importantly, male. Just shy of 6 years old, my daughter was born in 2010, two years after the historic election of Barack Obama. If Clinton is elected in November, for her, a non-white, non-male president won’t a groundbreaking feat—it will be the norm.
I remember clearly when Geraldine Ferraro was picked to be Walter Mondale’s running mate, my father often made jokes that if a woman became president she’d start a nuclear war when she had PMS. My mother loathed Ferraro, pointing out her thin lips as proof of her nastiness. Those comments took root in my self-conscious, giving me a strong sense of distrust for female politicians until I was on my own. Looking back now, I wonder if my course through this world would have been different had I seen more women in key leadership positions and had my family accepted them. Would I have aimed for the top?
When Clinton delivered her speech at the convention, I cried. Sure, the night was filled with emotion from start to finish, but my tears weren’t due to political allegiance—they were the result of female pride. Seeing her up on that stage, a proud women accepting the nomination, reinforced that women have truly come a long way, baby. I was moved by the waves and waves of supporters, from presidents and politicians to police chiefs and Pentagon officials, who saluted her accomplishments and declared, yes, this woman is the best person to serve as the commander in chief of our military. I loved that she put her gender out front and center, not apologizing for it, not downplaying it. “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card,” she proclaimed, “then deal me in.”
And I loved that my daughter could look at a head of state and know that a president could look like her, not just her brothers.
In the aftermath of the convention, I’ve noticed an ambivalence toward Clinton’s nomination among many younger women—and that is also a testament to how far we’ve come. They’ve seen plenty of women throw their hats into the presidential ring. They’ve seen Nancy Pelosi take over as Speaker of the House. They’ve seen Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. And they’ve watched as Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton represented our country as Secretaries of State. And, as Michelle O’Bama said in her outstanding speech at the convention, “Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”
Love her or hate her, it’s hard to deny the significance of a woman being nominated for president and the impact that will have on little girls across the country, and hopefully the world. Clinton herself marked the significant step forward in gender equality by wearing a white suit, which was not a nod to P. Diddy’s white parties of yore, but in fact a shout out to the suffragette’s who adopted white as one of their official colors during their fight for the right to vote. Whether a republican or democrat, liberal or conservative, mothers across the country have one more woman they can hold up as an example to their kids as to how high a woman can climb.
As Clinton herself said, “And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say I may become the first woman President. But one of you is next.”