All my life I have been used to downplaying my “otherness”. Growing up as the only non-white kid in my class I quickly became conscious and then self-conscious of what kept me apart from the kids that made up the consensus.
So while there was little I could do to truly hide this otherness, I learned quickly how to minimize it as an issue. I became an expert chameleon – morphing into whatever the situation called for. It’s a skill that’s done me well as I’ve weaved my life full of different countries and cultures.
But it’s an instinct that has also kept me quiet and out of the conversation about women’s status in this country. I didn’t want or need yet another way for others to see my otherness, instead of what makes up my person and character.
More than that, I didn’t want to be dismissed as a cliche or a stereotype – yet another feminist. Even in business school, so many of us didn’t bring up gender even when it was a legitimate factor, for fear of eyes rolling and being labelled as using the “women card”.
Well no longer. Because it’s not only very real, but the lengths to which it’s a problem are becoming sickeningly clear with this utter farce of an election.
I am aware, as are fellow citizens, of the many shortcomings of Hillary Clinton. I too have been guilty of uttering such inane and really irrelevant phrases as, “I don’t feel like she “connects”.” But the more I’ve read into the policies, track records and views of each “candidate”, the more I’m flabbergasted about why undecideds are undecided.
On one hand, we have one of THE most prepared and qualified candidates for the highest office in the land. And on the other? There are no words left to describe that continued mockery of the US political system.
So we really ought to have stopped pretending this was a legitimate race quite a while back.
And yet. There remains the question of who will be the next president. There is still doubt.
And so, having had researched and discarded other plausible explanations, I have to ask myself – seriously, would we be having this debate if HRC were a man? This hypothetical man’s flaws would be assumed and overlooked. Seen but discarded. History and our actions prove that.
It is hard to remain quiet then, when such a laughably wide margin of qualifications doesn’t make this candidate, this female candidate, the runaway presumptive winner.
All around me, every day, I work hard to be seen the equal of my male peers. Even as the current odds are stacked against me as the founder of a tech startup. But I haven’t cared about that in the past because I have always believed that actions speak louder than words.
Well I see that I’ve been wrong. Words matter too.
By not adding my voice to this issue I have made it seem like it’s not a desperately urgent issue today.
Yes, I will be the first to say I have incredibly strong, supportive men in my life – my husband, brothers, father and mentors. I know how hard each works to do what they do and get where they’ve gotten.
But I know exactly how much better I’ve had to be than my male peers to get to exactly where I am. And for as long as the inequity exists, until my daughters will not for a moment have to be mindful of their gender, I choose to make this my fight.
Go ahead, call me a feminist, roll your eyes, tell me I’m playing my “woman card”.
Damn straight I am. And I’ll keep playing it until you deal me my fair and equal hand.