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hillaryAfter Hillary Clinton’s loss, women around the country grieved. So did their young daughters. The glass ceiling held.

“To all the little girls watching this, never doubt that you are powerful and valuable and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world,” Clinton said in her concession speech.

Clinton reminded us of the little girls throughout her campaign, even producing an ad showing them looking in the mirror while listening to Donald’s Trump’s put-downs of women. Clinton implored us to remember this election would speak to them.

That’s why Trump’s victory was a crushing, devastating blow to those hoping to send a message that misogyny would no longer be tolerated.

It’s not enough to tell little girls they still matter. It’s not enough to tell little girls they can become anything they want in life. It’s not enough to tell  them they’re equal to little boys.

Little girls should know they may be in for a different ride in life. When they show leadership, they may be told they’re bossy, attention-seeking and annoying. They may not get the same kind of praise for a job well done. They may not get the same raises. They may not get the same promotions. They may be told they’re not likable. They may be told they’re too ambitious. They may be told to wait their turn. When they wait their turn, they may be told they’re entitled.

No one wants to have that conversation with little girls. We don’t want to admit this stuff still happens. We don’t want to expose them to these unpleasant realities. We don’t want to confront our own biases and our own complicity.

Many people say Clinton didn’t lose because she’s a woman. Even if that’s true, we can’t deny she’s been held to a different standard her whole career. We can’t deny Trump’s misogyny didn’t prevent him from winning an election.

I have no doubt there will one day be a woman president. Maybe it will be more likely if we confront what often happens to women when they strive for success. Maybe women would be more prepared for these obstacles if they were warned — when they were little girls.

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. There will be a book signing at the Little Theatre Cafe on November 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. Coffee and cookies provided.

 

Links of the Day:

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.