Dear Daughter: A Letter to My Future Child in the Age of Hillary Clinton
It's me, your Dad.
We haven't met yet. In fact, I haven't even met your Mom yet either. But I know that both you and your Mom will enter my life when the time is right.
No, I'm no mystic. I'm no time traveler, either. All I am is a simple, down-to-earth person who believes good things happen for a reason. And right now, I can think of no better thing to happen to me than to raise a daughter after January 20, 2017.
Why that date? Because my Daughter, that's when the United States will have its first female president. It will take 227 years and 44 tries but our country will finally get it right. That's not to say there haven't been good presidents before. People like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, and Obama unquestionably did remarkable things. But for too long our country viewed women as second-class citizens. Unfortunately, a large number of folks still do today. But you, sweet Daughter, will be entering a brand new world.
It will be a world where everywhere you'll look there will be successful women. There will be successful women doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists, astronauts, judges, CEOs, and senators. There will be entire professional sports leagues dedicated to women. Actresses will star in some of the most popular and successful films of the year. Women entertainers and artists will provide some of the top-grossing musical tours as well as breathtaking performances on some of the world's biggest stages. Women comedians will play sold-out venues and will host prime-time award shows. Women writers will produce some of the year's best-selling novels. And women in our government will make decisions that will impact our country for generations.
Cherish this world, beautiful Daughter.
Because it was not always this way. A mere fifty years ago there would not have been all these opportunities for you, my Daughter. Women were supposed to be subservient to their husbands. Cook, clean, and conceive children. That's what would have been expected of you. Putting your husband's needs ahead of your own. Playing second fiddle. Living your life for the sole purpose of satisfying somebody else. Having your own personal well-being and happiness take a backseat for the good of your man. That was the world as it was, my Daughter. For you, that world may seem strange and unnatural. Yet for a generation of women that world was their reality with no hope of escape.
I'm telling you this, lovely Daughter, not to scare or frighten you but to give you perspective. Nothing was given to the successful women you see on TV. They all had to go out and earn it. Many of them were and still are trailblazers, setting a course so that millions of daughters like you can grow up in a world where they have those kind of opportunities. My Daughter, you will have many of those opportunities yourself. Yes, there are still closed doors but there are many more than have been opened for you. You can be be whatever you put your mind to. We've seen successful women in fields that were long dominated by men. They've proven that women are equally capable to doing the work and, often times, can do it better than men. I know that you'll be one of those women, my Daughter. Because we've seen that strong, independent women can be successful even in the face of opposition. Those women have given you, dear Daughter, a chance to become anything.
Madam President. It still sounds odd to those of us who have been around a while. Not unnatural by any means, but that particular title is something our nation lacked for far too long. You see, my Daughter, women were intentionally kept out of our political process for 130 years. White men didn't want to share power and feared losing it, so women were forced to become nonparticipating members of our democracy. Even after earning the right to vote, most men still didn't see women as equals even as women gradually were able to become congresswomen and senators. As the rest of the world began electing female heads of state, our country was still behind the curve, fearful of allowing a woman to shatter that last glass ceiling that had been hovering over our nation's head for 227 years. If that last ceiling were to shatter, it would mean that men would finally have to admit that women were equal.
So, beautiful Daughter, the men in our country fought it, tooth and nail. When we had a First Lady from Arkansas enter the White House and actively use the position to promote her agenda, men got scared. First Ladies were supposed to be humble servants for their husbands and not political movers and shakers. This scared the men in our country so they tried to attack the First Lady with silly, made-up scandals. When that didn't work they tried to make her inseparable from her husband and make his scandals her scandals. They began a pattern of doing this in an effort to take her down with each ensuing scandal more outrageous than the last. All done in an effort to try and disgrace a strong, independent woman.
But, sweet Daughter, this woman was unlike most. She was committed to helping others no matter how nasty her opponents got. After being First Lady, she then ran for Senate from New York, a state that had never had a female senator. She won, making history and was re-elected with an ever greater margin of victory. In 2008, she chose to run for president, the ultimate challenge for any strong, independent woman. She was seen as the favorite, but lost by a razor-thin margin to then Senator Obama. Despite this overwhelming heartbreak, she endorsed Senator Obama and served honorably as his Secretary of State for four years, being involved in some of the most dramatic foreign policy issues of the time including working with Iran as well as the decision to capture Osama Bin Laden. After having logged nearly a million miles as Secretary of State, she opted to return to private life.
You see, beautiful Daughter, she had spent the last twenty years in the public eye. She had gotten closer than any woman in history to being its party's nominee. Nobody, and I mean nobody, would have faulted her if she had chosen to retire. But you see, my Daughter, some things are bigger than ourselves and are worth fighting for. For this woman, there was still an opportunity to fight, one last time, for those that were less fortunate. So once again, she put herself out there facing criticism and attacks from her opponents on the left and on the right. Over the course of eighteen months, she endured unprecedented sexism and misogyny. Even the news media, still very much steeped in the old-fashioned mindset that women were inferior, chose not only to broadcast these attacks but they would openly provoke their on-air guests to say something offensive about her. Through it all, she remained proud and dignified and she put herself above the fray. When her opponents tried to blame her for the death of four Americans abroad, she gave an eleven-hour televised testimony that was so powerful that even her opponents had to admit that they learned nothing new. When that happened, dear Daughter, your Dad knew this woman would be president.
And so, my Daughter, you will be entering a beautifully imperfect world. Women have made great strides but issues still remain. Workplace discrimination is still a problem. Women still are not paid equally to men. Women still are not being allowed to make their own choices about their health care. Women like your Mom still aren't receiving paid family leave. Sexism and ageism are still issues that Hollywood has yet to deal with. Women are still ogled walking down the street. Women are denied raises that their male counterparts will receive. Women have to work longer and harder for less money all while being expected to be prim and proper by adhering to certain expectations regarding appearance, posture, facial expressions and voice modulation in an effort to earn their male peers' acceptance.
But despite all that, dear Daughter, there is still great beauty in this world. Never lose sight of that. Progress is being made, slowly and surely, as tends to happen in our country. Revolutions don't happen overnight. Yet they do happen. As you grow up and begin to think about what you want to be, you'll look at pictures in books and on the internet and you'll see women in all kinds of jobs. You'll know it can be done. You'll know that you can be anything if you work hard enough. There's no job that is unattainable and you can dream as big as you want. You and all your friends. Because you'll be entering a world where we know that you can be anything you want to be.
Even President of the United States.
With love and compassion,
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