Making Herstory: Examining the Gendered Significance of a Hillary Clinton Presidency

The first time that I was accused of supporting HRC "just because she's a woman" was in--ironically enough--Gender Studies class. Since then, I've heard that enough times to feel a need to create this website, which combats societal misconceptions about Hillary and her supporters--especially the belief that folks support her for her gender alone. 

And then, of course, there's flat out sexism that we have to contend with. The woman-bashing is real, it's intense, and it's much more prevalent than I ever expected. Last weekend, one of my relatives wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Hillary and the caption "life's a bitch, so don't vote for one." It took a while to wrap my head around the fact that a man with whom I share DNA chose to spend his hard-earned money that way, and then casually propagate such a message at a family gathering. Like, no. -_-

Talk to any of your HRC-supportive friends, and they'll have stories like mine (and when they share them, kindly encourage them to submit said stories to highschoolersforhillary@gmail.com). Ilana Cohen (NY) brilliantly explores the meaning of our candidate's gender in her piece below.

Remember: we MUST pay attention to the navigation of gender on the campaign trail and in media coverage. We MUST savor the significance of this candidacy for people like Susan B. Anthony, Shirley Chisholm, and little girls all over the world. And we MUST keep reminding any and all who will listen how our love for HRC runs far deeper than gender. Enjoy!! -Bella


HRC making herstory on the campaign trail in Philadelphia, PA. (Image located  here )

HRC making herstory on the campaign trail in Philadelphia, PA. (Image located here)

Since she announced her candidacy last April, Hillary Clinton has capitalized on her achievement as the first female presidential nominee of a major party and her potential to become the first female president of the United States. Yet when I have mentioned this to friends, many wave the idea aside, viewing the fact as far from monumental. They were staunchly against the idea that I would support Hillary "just because she’s a woman" and spoke to how progressive Bernie Sanders’ campaign was in terms of gender equality. I was perplexed; my support for Hillary didn’t simply stem from her gender but the historic aspect of her campaign was certainly one that I admired and believed was a milestone for American women. While it’s true that there seems to be fewer forms of overt sexism and gender discrimination today than there were decades ago during the earlier stages of Hillary’s political career, it’s quite clear even from interactions with Clinton’s Republican opposition that gender bias is alive and well. If there’s one woman dedicated to feminist issues and gender equality, it’s Hillary Clinton. Still, people continually cast off the historic nature of her candidacy.

If there’s one woman dedicated to feminist issues and gender equality, it’s Hillary Clinton. Still, people continually cast off the historic nature of her candidacy.

Today, full-time female workers earn 79 cents to every dollar a man earns, and this wage gap only increases when accounting for a woman’s race, sexual orientation and gender identity. Gender inequality is still ingrained in our society and Hillary is the only presidential nominee qualified to tackle it. Hillary is dedicated to closing the wage gap, obtaining paid parental leave, and is firmly pro-choice. And more importantly, Hillary is dedicated to serving all women both domestically and abroad.

In her op-ed "Behind Hillary’s Mask" published recently in the New York Times, historian and journalist Gail Collins writes, "You can argue the pros and cons of Hillary Clinton’s character, or her potential to change the nation, or her position on trade policy. But you can never take away the fact that she was the one who made the idea of a woman becoming president so normal that many young women are bored by it." Voting for or supporting Hillary Clinton simply because she’s a woman is surely not the message of the Clinton campaign, but there is a certain privilege that young women, especially teenage girls my age, have in being able to dismiss the gender bias Hillary has strived to overcome throughout her career.

"If fighting for women’s healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in!" -Hillary Clinton (image located  here )

"If fighting for women’s healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in!" -Hillary Clinton (image located here)

If her history of supporting women is not enough to prove the worth of her stance on women’s issues, perhaps the contrast between Clinton and her Republican opponent is. Donald Trump has repeatedly made jokes about menstrual cycles and belittled the women in his presence. Unlike Secretary Clinton, Trump does not even have a section on his campaign website dedicated to women’s issues, or any other social justice issues for that matter. When Trump criticizes Hillary for playing the "woman’s card" not only is he blatantly demonstrating the sexism that Clinton has had to overcome throughout her political career, but he ironically provides Clinton with a new campaign tool--the literal "woman’s card"--to empower female supporters.

A protester demanding that Hillary iron his shirt in January 2008 (Image located  here )

A protester demanding that Hillary iron his shirt in January 2008 (Image located here)

Clinton has also faced gender-based judgment throughout her campaign. Media often depicts Clinton as a robotic politician, chastising her for the lack of a stereotypically 24/7 sunny disposition, though she has remained true to her character throughout her campaign. Women are still drastically underrepresented in government despite making up slightly over half of the U.S. population. Yet Hillary has continuously put women’s rights to the forefront of her political agenda, making many cracks in the glass ceiling.

A CBS news poll from June reports "seventy-two percent of voters say they hope to see a woman president in their lifetime, up from 63 percent eight years ago." Hopefully, a majority of these voters will support Hillary in November not simply because she hopes to be our first female president, but because she is the most qualified, experienced and capable candidate deserving of the job.

I am eager to see Hillary in the Oval Office because it proves that girls like me have the ability to follow suit, and because she is the right woman for the job.