Last night at the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton spoke, and Rachel Maddow cringed.
“I think the beginning of the speech was a controversial way to start, honestly: ‘The girl,’ ‘a girl,’ leading with this long story about him being attracted to an unnamed girl and thinking about whether he was starting something he couldn’t finish, building her whole political story for the whole first half of the speech around her marriage to him,” Maddow said with a sour look on her face. “Lest there be worries that this was going to be too feminist a convention, that was not a feminist way to start.”
My hubz was completely unmoved by Bill’s speech as were many other friends on Facebook, but me? I started crying as soon as Bill said, “I met a girl.”
I grew up in a world where females were treated as second-class citizens. I was expected to help my mother in the kitchen after dinner, but my brother was allowed to watch TV. I endured and witnessed injustices throughout my childhood, based solely on one X-chromosome and as a result I rebelled against authority. “I’ll do the dishes if Doug does them too,” I’d respond, and then I’d stand my ground.
When I went to a family friend’s home for dinner one night during high school, right after the main course, all of the women popped up and headed into the kitchen with the plates. All but me, that is. I remained seated at the table. Me and six men. I felt naked. Everyone stared at me, but I couldn’t go into that kitchen. Why was I expected to be a servant to the men? The next day my mom told me how embarrassed she was that her friend had to call her to report on my bad behavior.
Such was my upbringing. And then at my first job out of college I was instructed to sleep with a 60-year-old client. I packed up and left.
The thing is that the whole time I’ve been standing up for my right to be treated equally, I’ve inwardly been embarrassed to be a woman. No matter what I do, that X-chromosome always comes back to haunt me. Because I am a strong individual, when I speak with authority, I’m seen as a bitch. If a man did and said the same thing, he’d be regarded as confident — a leader.
But last night, Bill Clinton did the unthinkable: He described Hillary as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as “a girl.” He could have simply presented her resume, but he talked about things like Hillary putting lining paper in Chelsea’s dorm room drawers in college.
Feminists gasped in unison. Don’t go there! But I sat stunned. He actually went there. Not only is Hillary the first female presidential nominee, but… get this… SHE IS ALSO A WOMAN!
I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable in my skin. After all, 45 years of anti-women propaganda is a lot of tape to erase, but because of Hillary, I feel a bit vindicated. I’m hopeful that one day girls will not grow up thinking they too have to hide their girlishness.
I write about letting dogz be dogz — let them sniff and bark and dig and chew. And now I’m thinking along the same lines for us X-Chromosomers. Let girlz be girlz. I hope to hear many more stories of successful women who are also women. What could be more feminist than that?