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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.

Susan B. Anthony has a museum, a coin and a bridge. (Okay, half a bridge.)

Does she deserve a federal holiday, too?

Cynthia Benjamin of the Democrat and Chronicle urges women to campaign for one:

I can imagine a national observance that commemorates her achievements. A woman with a national holiday? I can imagine that. But it clearly will take more than imagination since no woman has a national holiday. The issue already was introduced to Congress several times unsuccessfully, said Deborah L. Hughes, president and CEO of the Susan B. Anthony House. She thinks a roadblock has been that Anthony’s birthday is in February, when there are other national observances, which can be a struggle for school districts.

I’d love to see Susan B. Anthony get a federal holiday. But I wouldn’t spend a lot of energy trying to make it happen.

In a time when this country is arguing over women’s access to birth control, women are paid 14 percent less than men, and few women hold high public office or become CEOs, I’d pass on fighting for a proclamation.

On national holidays, I’ve covered numerous memorial services for our veterans and Martin Luther King, Jr. The ceremonies are beautiful and worthy. It’s wonderful to have time to reflect on their contributions to our country.

But for many people, those holidays are not spent reflecting. They’re spent at barbecues or the mall. On holidays like Presidents Day, they’re spent at work. Our culture does not revere any national holidays except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the only three days it’s hard to find a place to eat lunch.

Holidays can only accomplish so much. King’s holiday has become an important reminder of his work and legacy. But if he were alive today, he would be saddened by our society’s racial segregation and the state of our schools. He would be grieved by the incarceration rate and graduation rate of young black men.

Having a holiday is one way to pay tribute to our heroes. Carrying on their mission takes a lot more work.