Dear Secretary Clinton,
There is a part of me that is reasonably certain you’ll never read this. You are a busy woman, and I’m sure that countless others write to you every day – I’m just another of many. But there is also a bigger part of me that believes you actually will read this, because I think that’s the kind of person you are. You listen to people. You care. You’re willing to take the time. This is one of the many things that I admire about you.
I’m writing this as a woman who has always had feminist inklings, but only acquired the self-knowledge and confidence to call herself a feminist in her twenties (I took an introductory Women’s Studies course as an elective one summer and never looked back); as a woman who was too young and self-absorbed to notice how amazingly badass you were as First Lady, how you didn’t want to bake the fucking cookies (I’m sorry, I swear a lot), how you unabashedly insisted on being involved, making good on your husband’s promise that we’d get ‘two presidents for the price of one’, how you fought to give us universal healthcare – an issue that is still very important to me (I’m lucky enough to live in a country with universal healthcare now). I’m writing this as a woman who knows how hard it must have been for you to relinquish your name; as a woman subjected to the everyday misogyny that all women must endure, who knows the frustration and pain and – at times – fear that goes along with not being taken seriously, not being believed, not being seen as a full person, and who knows that you, by virtue of being who you are, have endured so much more than I can even imagine and could never, ever endure; as a woman for whom ‘women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights’ is such a simple and undeniable truth, and can’t comprehend how this can be seen as provocative or controversial; as a woman who has waited 37 years to see that glass ceiling shatter, to see an intelligent, capable, qualified and fearlessly feminist woman elected to our country’s highest office, and was so happy and excited to be this close, on the brink of witnessing history (I even planned to commemorate the event by getting a Suffragette-themed tattoo), and for that woman to be you; as a devastated and heartbroken supporter.
I know you don’t need me to tell you how great and inspiring you are. I can’t imagine you’d pull yourself out of bed every day to face all the shit you know you’re going to face if you didn’t, at the very least, have confidence in yourself. But I also know that if your defeat by that man is as devastating and heartbreaking as it is for me, and for so many other women I know, then it must be so much worse for you. Because you wanted to make America better. Because you did the hard work. You’ve been doing the hard work all of your life, and at the moment when all that hard work should have finally, finally paid off it was instead pulverised and swept away not only by that man, but by half of the voting public. I cried great, heaving sobs as I watched your concession speech, all the while marvelling at how poised you were, how you managed to keep it together whilst you must have been feeling so much pain and disappointment and anger. But that’s another thing I admire about you. Some people call it being ‘cold’ or ‘robotic’ or some other idiotic descriptor rooted in misogyny, but I see it as bravery, as steely resolve.
And it’s bullshit that you have to be brave, that you can’t get upset or cry or raise your voice or give the concession speech that I would’ve liked to give on your behalf, which would have been filled with a lot of swear words and incredulity and blood-vessel-bursting-tears-and-mascara-smeared rage. I should probably not run for president. But of course you had the grace and dignity not to do that, and to instead use the opportunity to reassure all the women and little girls (and the little girls still living and hoping within us) who were watching that we are people and we matter, to lift us up in our time of great sadness and despair.
So I wanted to tell you that I and millions of other women believed in you and enthusiastically supported you. That we are in turn honored to have had you as our champion. And I wanted to thank you for taking up that banner for us, for shouldering the burden of the last quarter-century of personal attacks and witch hunts, for continuing to get up and dust yourself off and put on your armor and go to work for us. Thank you for clearing a path. Thank you for standing up to that man, that bully, that racist, sexist demagogue – you deserved an infinitely better opponent, and I know you would have stood up to him too. Thank you for not settling, for unashamedly seeking power, for always striving for more – not just for yourself but on behalf of all women. Thank you for making pantsuits a fashion statement. Thank you for being a fucking boss. Thank you for getting this far. We still have so much further to go, so much more work to do, but you have made it a little easier now and shown us that it can be done. Thank you for helping me to believe that I might not have to wait another 37 years for us to get there. I still want to get that tattoo.
From one Nasty Woman to another,