Dear Hilary –
Today, as I read the New York Times, I cried. I cried because I was happy and disappointed at the same time. I know that sounds strangely out of line, but that’s how I felt.
In 1984, when I was five years old, I remember my mom pointing out Geraldine Ferraro and telling me that she was the first woman to be on the Democratic ticket as a vice presidential candidate. She told me that I could do whatever I wanted. Now, as a 29 year old mother of a five month old son, I can tell you that you have been a role model for me and, hopefully, for my son. Yes, for my son. Each time we saw you on the news, I did to him what my mother did to me – I explained to him that you were the first woman to have a shot at getting the nod from a major political party to run for President of the United States and to have a good shot at getting that job. I explained to him that you were a mom and a lawyer, just like me, his mommy, and that you were a good mommy and a good lawyer and that you could do both extremely well and without shame. I explained to him that in the year that I was born, 1979, something like this was just a dream and that my mother, his grandmother, would never have dreamed that this could happen in her lifetime. You have demonstrated how far we have come and how a woman can be successful in all aspects of her life. You have demonstrated to my son, everyone’s sons and everyone’s daughters that women can do it and that we are strong enough, smart enough and talented enough to do it and that anyone that thinks otherwise is simply incorrect. For that, I thank you. I thank you for being a role model for me, and a role model for my son. I thank you for giving little girls a picture of what they can be – a President of the United States, the highest office in our land.
I was also disappointed because your campaign showed me how far we still have to go as professional women in this country. It showed me that sexism and misogyny in this culture are still so virulent, even at a time where 50% of my law school class were women and more and more women were attaining judicial appointments, running for political office and otherwise entering into what were once male dominated relams. Everything sexist seemed to appear in this race from those Hilary nutcrackers to hecklers shouting “Iron my shirt” at campaign events. Should comments like this have been racial in nature, everyone would have been in an uproar, but the reaction to this seemed as mild as the soap that I use to wash my son when he gets a bath. There was almost NO reaction and that is unacceptable in my book. The crudeness and hatefulness that I saw brought me to tears on more than one occasion and then caused me to see red. I went to a woman’s college, the same one that you went to, and then I went to law school. I am now a lawyer and I work full time and I work as a mother on top of that – I am struggling daily to teach my son that this sort of mentality is inappropriate. But this is hard to do when the behavior is condoned by the media. And yes, it is sanctioned and condoned because it was not reacted to at all or condemned all out.
But when it comes down to it, your campaign did mean a lot. It meant a lot to me personally and to the country as a whole because it was historical and has hopefully opened up the discourse on the misogyny that still exists in our society today. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
With love and respect, Melissa and Nate