"What is takes is to be a woman who is extraordinary."

I've got a new essay up at BNR about wondering, when I was a child, what it would take for a woman to be president, and how I'm still wondering about that today:
When I was in fifth grade, I had to memorize the list of US presidents. At that time, there were 40 of them. To help me remember them, I looked at a series of their portraits contained in my parents' set of encyclopedias, as I sat cross-legged on the orange shag carpeting of our living room while a re-run of "Barney Miller" played on the telly.

To this day, I can conjure the cross stare of Millard Fillmore and the Ichabodian visage of William Henry Harrison.

There was something about all those faces, first rendered in oil and then reprinted for my perusal, that made me ask my teacher how a person became president.

Something about the way I asked made her think I was asking what I might do if I wanted to be president someday. That was not what I was asking. I am criminally shy and despise being the center of attention; a position as visible as the presidency would be my worst nightmare. But I also wasn't really asking what it took to become president, either.

I was asking, without saying it, what it would take—was it even possible—for a woman to be president.

...I am getting a further education. My question is being answered, in simultaneously the most inspiring and disappointing ways.

What is takes is to be a woman who is extraordinary.
Click through to read the whole thing!

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