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graveThe annual Election Day tradition of posting stickers on Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Rochester, N.Y. gained international attention this year. After all, this was the year we were supposed to elect our first female president. People lined up for hours to pay tribute to our hometown hero who helped secure women’s right to vote. This was a special, long-awaited moment.

Something didn’t feel right. I tweeted my misgivings about the massive celebration at Mt. Hope Cemetery. There was no joy in my heart about going to the polls the next day.

Maybe Clinton lost because she’s a woman. Maybe she didn’t. We all know she was a flawed candidate. That’s not the point. The point is that during this campaign, Clinton faced the same sexism women face every day in America.

A Clinton win wouldn’t have erased what happened during the campaign. A Clinton win wouldn’t have prevented other women from enduring sexism when they jump into politics or seek a promotion. Just as Barack Obama’s presidency didn’t end racism, a Clinton presidency wouldn’t have ended sexism.

In America, it’s okay to demean women candidates. Republicans and Democrats engage in this behavior. Men and women are guilty.

“Trump that bitch.”

“Such a nasty woman.”

“She’s likable enough.”

Entitled. Power-hungry. Ambitious. Corrupt. Controlled. Bitch.

We don’t question the motivations of men who seek political office. But we pick apart women. It doesn’t seem natural for women to seek power, so she must be up to no good. Women are held to a different standard. Women pay a heavier price when they’re attacked or they falter.

The worst part of this kind of sexism is it’s not always easy to see. Good people who believe in equality can be guilty of devaluing women — myself included. Gender tropes are insidious in our culture.

susanbI’m enormously proud to live in a city that cherishes a feminist icon. There’s no doubt Anthony would have loved to see all those women lined up at her grave. But Anthony would have been the first person to tell the hopeful throngs that their work is not done.

Anthony said in 1893, “It is because women have been taught always to work for something else than their own personal freedom; and the hardest thing in the world is to organize women for the one purpose of securing their political liberty and political equality.”

Use those stickers to stick together.

My book, Broad, Casted explores the role of gender in my journalism career and campaign for state assembly. It is available in print and digital editions.

8 Responses to Why I Skipped the Sticker

  1. I hope you can stay upbeat Rachel. I know the last few months have been difficult, but don’t let it get you down.

  2. November 9, 2016 at 4:09 pm Some Guy responds:

    You got robbed for much the same reasons Bernie got robbed. And it was not about your two X chromosomes, it’s about entrenched corruption having more to lose than the people think they have to gain by confronting it. However flawed, Trump voters, almost to a “T”, grasped that general concept pretty effectively this election cycle.

    But kudos for the aversion to this combination of virtue signalling and identity politics that accomplishes absolutely nothing. Also, the propriety of city of Rochester employees on city time promoting this on election day just reeks of partisanship and shows serious lack of respect for the resources governments take from the people to provide legitimate services they consent to, not to underwrite the costs of politics, which Sun Tzu aptly described as war by other means.

    • Some Guy – not participating is actually a form of participating. Hence the reason I didn’t put any votes down for Morelle or Funke, who both ran unopposed, because I’m not going to pretend to support people that I don’t, nor a political process that doesn’t provide the very basics: choice.

      And Partisan politics? Please unpack that for me. Since we had two female candidates from different parties, and all.

      • November 11, 2016 at 10:26 am Some Guy responds:

        Why, all of a sudden, is the existence of the SBA tombstone not just newsworthy, but subject to religious dogma? It has everything to do with who was on the ballot this year. Again, this year, of all years, why all of the sudden?

        Most of what government says, is propaganda, most are just so accustomed to it as normal they are unable to realize what it is. Government should not be in the business of “promoting” anything*, it is supposed to exist to provide a core set of vital services, not be everything to everyone or a massive wealth redistribution scheme. Government, to a sizable portion of the inhabitants of this land, is basically their religion. They worship it. They edify it. They shove it in others’ faces, or pay others with guns to do it for them, if “necessary”, so they don’t get their hands dirty imposing their religion on unwilling “converts”.

        Voting, particularly in this region, is usually just virtue signalling. Turning over the money-changers’ tables in the temple…now THAT is productive activism, though it may get one crucified…

        Lots of people in government were not just OK with letting an innocent man rot in prison, they fought every attempt for justice. Thank God Rachel and some other Good Samaritans ‘turned their tables over’. But it was righteous because those “public servants” failed in their most fundamental obligation — the money-changers were never supposed to be in the temple AND were not supposed to defraud their brethren, specifically through usury. People whose oaths were to pursue justice fought against it when the facts were more than sufficient to raise valid questions about whether justice was actually done.

        *Particularly private businesses, when government picks winners and losers, that’s USSR, not USA

  3. I wrote you in yesterday.

  4. I object to the stickers. Who pays for them, not with my tax dollars no matter how small the cost? And they promote a DEM initiative as the more that vote usually is better for DEMs. You have the right to vote as well as the right to not vote and you shouldn’t be put into an environment where you will be questioned if you didn’t vote or show your sticker. And finally if you don’t follow things or are involved or not knowledgeable on the issues or candidates you shouldn’t vote.

    And I don’t like being hassled the second I put my ballot in the scanner by some poll worker trying to give me a sticker I don’t want, and looking at me like I’m a anarchist for turning down the sticker! If they want to put the stickers out where if you want one you can take one fine. But having to reject the advances of a supposedly doing their job poll worker, pushing stickers is something i don’t enjoy but do it every year. In the words of Bernie….enough with the stickers.

    The voting process should be a serious somber event. Not a get together. Voting in school budget votes are akin to a baked food sale with a vote attached.

    And on sexism as long as there are two sexes there will always be sexism going in both directions done by both by both sexes.

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