Hillary Clinton’s campaign shows women they deserve the spotlight

US presidential candidate is challenging the pervasive myth that women who desire the same power as men are subversive and dangerous.

Hillary ClintonAn inspiration … Hillary Clinton has garnered respect with her seemingly impenetrable skin. Photograph: Bao Dandan/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Let me start by saying that this is not an objective article on the merits and weaknesses of Hilary Clinton’s policies, campaign or politics. To be frank, it is not an objective article at all. This is a description of what it is like, as a woman, to watch Hilary ascend the ranks of government. Because, as women, we are all watching.

No matter what your political views are, it cannot be denied that Hilary Clinton has made the upcoming US presidential election an emotional one for women around the world. She’s someone who, at the very least, understands what it is to have a female body in today’s world.

Clinton has been inspiring me for years. Even when I’ve disagreed with her, I’ve respected her. She seemed to have an impenetrable skin, and as a sensitive child, I envied that. The vitriol that has been lobbed at Clinton over the years would have laid a lesser person flat. The fact that she not only withstood it but rose above showed me that being a woman didn’t mean you had to hide in the background.

She also introduced me to the casual sexism that pervades our society. Every step of the way her intentions have been questioned, but why? Why are we so confused by a woman seeking power? We would never wonder why a man would want to be president. A man craving power is within the natural order of things. It is to be expected. A woman desiring power is considered subversive and dangerous.

Of course Clinton is hungry for power. I would even bet that she is selfish, cunning and would sell her soul to get what she wants. But so would every other successful politician. And most unsuccessful politicians, for that matter.

Clinton showed me that to be a woman in the public eye means inspiring, at best, equal parts hatred and affection. Her introduction to that role was far from a best-case scenario: a supporting character in a story that confronted America’s issues with sex, marriage and, most importantly, dry cleaning.

Hilary’s past as a late-night TV monologue joke will certainly come up (pardon the pun) for Fox News anchors, late night hosts and think pieces alike. Yet she has moved past it. Clinton has fought long and hard for a legacy that is more than her marriage. She worked tirelessly under a president that defeated her in the primaries, she’s visited more countries than any secretary of state in US history, and she is the first viable female presidential candidate. Sometimes we can become so obsessed with image and commentary that we forget that actions still speak louder than words, and Hilary has been speaking loud and clear for the past decade.

For me, growing up in the shadow of a rising Hillary Clinton was inspiring but for young girls today the emotional impact of growing up with a female president is beyond measure. It will shape and build their world view to be more open and hopeful than even mine is, and I still believe the remake of Jurassic Park might be really good. The idea that in 2016, a 10-year-old child could live their entire life without knowing a white, male president is beautiful. Especially since race relations in America often feel like they’re deteriorating at a rapidly increasing rate and white conservatives are all too eager to dismiss racism out of hand since Barack Obama took office.

Unless one of the parties has a surprise candidate up their pinstriped sleeves, or Janelle Monáe answers my longstanding plea to run for president, the next president of the US will not be African-American. There’s a good chance they won’t be a person of colour at all.

Transitioning out of our first black president’s White House residency will have an impact, and that impact can either be cushioned or intensified by whoever comes next. So it feels especially important to replace him with someone who will continue to challenge the status quo, who will break a glass ceiling and who will provide inspiration to all the young girls out there.

– Sarah Hartshorne, The Guardian

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