I believed that she would win.
I believed in her campaign. Since I was a child, I felt that my success was directly linked to the voices, ideas, and existence of powerful women. I believed in the strength of Hillary Rodham Clinton. I even distinctly remember her speech, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”
I started to believe in her, if not anything else. As I became an adult, I believed in her strength. I, in despite of trials and tribulations, believed in her will to push through. I believed that she was our best chance at continuing the ideas, discourse and policies to help marginalized groups in our country.
However, I also had a hidden belief that she would not win. I felt that the sexism, both outright and inadvertent, was and is too strong in our country. Of course, when one hears the name, “Clinton” these things come to mind: corrupt, e-mails, sneaky woman, scandal, affair.
Despite this, Hillary Clinton was too strong, too bold, and just too much for many people, both men and women. Her tenacity could tear through the flesh of demagogues and bullies.
Her matter-of-fact attitude about almost everything made some women cringe and some men irritated. Her name, her words, she herself was too big.
Women, people of color, and those apart of the LGBTQ community exist in a society that forces them to live a life of duality and contradiction. Speaking from only my perspective, the dichotomy women must face is a maddening experience woven in anxiety and apprehension. Women must play it small.
When we’re assertive, we’re criticized, either by ourselves or our counterparts, for being too bossy. When we project an air of confidence, we’re judged for being pretentious.
When we wear what we want, we’re clearly doing it to seek attention from the opposite sex. This duality, this contradiction will forever haunt women in American culture. Our bodies are objectified, our minds are trivialized, and our voices are often ignored, misheard, or silenced.
On Election Day, for me at least, all of that disappeared. I felt equal, real, and powerful beyond any political or social measure. I, for the first time in my life felt the power of being a female. I cried, I clapped, I sang “What’s Up” by the Three Non Blondes on my way to work. I was happy and unashamed of it. In fact, my happiness and excitement continued all the way to the Javits Center and throughout the night. I stood in the front row, staring at her podium, envisioning what she would say when she came out to speak to her supporters. I stood for 11 hours without water, food, or a bathroom break because I believed that she would win. The countless chants led me to believe that so did everyone else there.
But she didn’t and it hurts. It isn’t the type of hurt that goes away. It’s a gut-wrenching sting that stays with a person for a while.
For women who supported her, it was more than a presidential loss. This loss carried weight. Her quest, her power, her tenacity represented the very things we want and need as a group of people in the United States.
That glimpse of what could be, while it was pleasing for the moment, is not enough. It isn’t enough for us: our daughters, our sons, our students, our future. Duality needs to be deconstructed, contradictions need to be casted from even the shadows, and the glimpse of what could be needs to just be.
I believe that we will win.