I've got a new essay up at Blue Nation Review, "Indomitable: The Girl from Park Ridge Who Became Hillary Clinton." Here's an excerpt:
One of my best and oldest friends lives in Park Ridge, Illinois, so I've spent a lot of time there. It is the place where Hillary Clinton grew up. Perhaps because my friend and I talk politics a lot, or perhaps because we reminisce a lot, the way two friends who forged a lifelong friendship in the fire of becoming adults together tend to do, I've found myself thinking about the young Hillary, who came from that place.Please head over to read the whole thing.
I think about who Hillary might have been, as a girl striving to be a good student and make her parents proud; as a girl learning about the world, and the people in it, outside the borders of her safe Chicago suburb; as a girl encountering sexism for the first time, and the second, and the third, and being overcome by the dawning realization that the rules were different for her.
That even though there were people who may have told her that women have achieved equality to men, that we can be anything we want to be, it wasn't true.
I think about when it was that she started figuring out that there were different rules for girls and women, what her formative experiences might have been. I wonder if, like me, she ever overheard men asking her father if he was disappointed that she wasn't a son, or was scolded by a minister for inquiring why women couldn't be ordained.
I wonder what her earliest barriers were, before she'd even heard the word "feminism," and when it was that she realized that they were just the first in what would be a lifetime of encountering them.
To be in a girl in a world that believes girls to be less-than is to be discouraged, over and over again. To become a woman who has achieved what Hillary has achieved, and who continues to fight for access to the most exclusive men's club on the planet, is to be indomitable in the face of that discouragement, to confront it over and over again.
The scariest part of submitting that piece for me is that there are no caveats. No obligatory "I know she's not perfect" or "I don't agree with her about everything." These things are true, but I wanted to be able to write one damn piece where I can say I'm fond of and grateful to her without apology. Because I am tired of having to reflexively say that my candidate isn't perfect, in a way no one else is obliged to do for their candidate, just because the candidate I support is a woman who is held to unreasonable expectations of perfection.
Even when I include caveats, I get bad faith criticism. I'm a shill; I'm uncritical in my support; I only support her because we're both women; whatever. So fuck it. I'm not going to keep breathing life into the idea that there must be special disclosures to signal support for Clinton.
If people don't know or believe by now that I'm not a mindless cheerleader, they're never going to. And obliging me to constantly acknowledge her failures in order to defend myself, as the cost of saying anything positive about her, doesn't serve either one of us. That's a game I no longer want to play.