When I was a high school senior, preparing for my transition into college, I remember brainstorming topics for my application essays. I considered the usual subjects – family, life’s great challenges, a volunteer experience, my activism, and other possible responses. The expected has never really been my forte. I wrote about my favorite TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Well, okay, not exactly.
I wrote about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the importance of strong female role models for young women. At that time in my life, I defined strength as something physical – the ability to protect oneself from harm. The ability to defend the ones you love. When I began considering Hillary Clinton as a possible candidate for whom to vote, I was forced to redefine strength. As I reflected on the powerful women I have admired, it struck me how similar Hillary Clinton is to Buffy. For instance, they are both blonde, with bold fashion senses (seriously, praise that powder blue pantsuit). But more importantly, they are both brave. Women who are cool under pressure, who have been forced to face violent attacks of their bodies and character, who have been harshly criticized and yet who choose to move forward. Women who are unafraid to make hard decisions, to speak loudly, to take up space. Women with ambition and purpose. Women who are confident in their skills, but leave room to grow. Women who are decidedly imperfect – fallible, vulnerable, human. During this campaign season, as we witness arguments from the left and right that are pro- and anti- choice, pro- and anti- equal pay, pro- and anti-parental leave, it strikes me how dazzling and surreal it is that we have a woman Democratic nominee for President of these United States. A woman who is, by all accounts, including her own, imperfect. A woman who has erred, apologized, and promised to do better.
In a nation that continues to police women’s behavior, Hillary Clinton grabs the mic. She speaks – no, shouts – her position. In a nation that continues to belittle and degrade what we are capable of, Hillary Clinton works to shatter the highest glass ceiling, and to establish a new gender-equitable generation. In a nation where strength is still defined in hypermasculinist terminology – brute force and domination – Hillary Clinton uses a careful combination of hawkish policy, foreign diplomacy, and social tact to establish herself as a legitimate and formidable political player. And despite her imperfections, Hillary Clinton stands apart in this election as a candidate who is able to admit that she has been wrong, without admitting defeat. Hillary Clinton’s nomination reminds me that women are forces to be reckoned with. That we can use our intellect, talent, and ambition to guide future generations. That we can face the demons plaguing our great nation – sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, gun violence – with equal parts grace and fury. That we all have a little bit of super hero inside of us.