Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

The Good Fight

I’ve had a relationship with Hillary Clinton for over twenty years now. I have vivid memories of her during Bill’s first run for presidency. She was ripped apart for wearing headbands, with an admission she never really learned to do her hair. She made the mistake of stating that she had ambitions outside of baking cookies. At the time, I lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and was also under constant fire for my lack of interest in being a girl. Why didn’t I do my makeup? Why didn’t I do my hair? Why couldn’t I tan?

I liked to read and dreamed of moving to New York to become a writer. I didn’t care about football games. When I did manage to experiment with makeup, it was with purple nail polish because I loved Prince. I was different and I was constantly told that was not okay. Seeing Hillary go through the same thing and stand her ground gave me strength.

Ten years later, we re-connected in New York. She found a seat in the Senate and I fulfilled my dream of living in the greatest city in the world. We were both doing pretty well for ourselves.

When she announced her candidacy for the president, I wasn’t particularly excited. She was no longer the fierce first-lady in a headband. I was no longer the misfit trapped someplace I didn’t want to be. She was a seasoned politician, and I a fully formed urban liberal. Bernie promised real changes and I rooted for him until he dropped out.

When Hillary was the remaining choice, it required zero thought. The right to choose alone is a lynchpin, no need to detail the other horrifying reasons to oppose Trump. So, I was for Hillary, although I couldn’t say I was truly excited about it, until the debates.

I watched all three and seeing her on stage, nearly brought me to tears. Here she stood, clearly most qualified, and yet she had to stand and patiently entertain her male opposition’s inanity. This is a recurring theme for all women in the workplace, but a particular issue for those of us in tech. Here Hillary and I once again were dealing with the same shit, and once again, she was showing me how it’s done.

I woke up this morning and still had hope. When I went to bed, the margin was narrow but there was still a possibility. I opted to fall asleep and dream against that possibility. There was nothing else I could do. To be honest, I hadn’t even done what I could do. I live in New York and skipped voting, confident that that choice would not impact the outcome.

I checked the results and reality hit hard. Hillary had failed. She reached her limits. Were these my limits too?

It was a bitter pill and I can’t say I’ve swallowed it. It’s sitting in the back of my throat, bringing me to tears every time I feel it’s there.

Her opposition was a dilettante with real evidence of his ineptitude. But she couldn’t beat him. Or maybe not him, but that intangible thing she and I and oh so many others have been fighting versions of our whole lives — the freedom to be anything we want to be, and the refusal to let anyone tell us any different.

I suspect we’ll both be continuing that fight, in our own ways. I’m curious to see where our lives converge next. I hope it’s on the other side of that ceiling.

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