I made a life list several years ago with goals (or perhaps dreams?) of mine. I often forget about the list only to remember it months after I’ve reached another goal. Choosing 50 goals was surprisingly difficult because I wasn’t willing to write down anything that felt like a throwaway.
Some are small things that I am certain I can accomplish, and some are grand, unlikely-but-not-impossible dreams. And some are things that should be small but seem to fall into that unlikely-but-not-impossible category instead.
One of those is Goal 19 — help a woman get elected president.
Of all my goals, this one seems the least under my control. And I’m saddened that it sits on a list of dreams. When my mom began her teaching career, she joined a protest at her school over the dress code. The teachers banded together and broke the rule that forbid women to wear pants. As a child, I saw women in many different roles, and I assumed that I could have any job that I wanted as an adult — and wear pants to that job, too! My mom had fought the battle for equality, and that battle had ended.
Now I have my own daughter, and I can’t believe that I am old enough to be a mother and yet still haven’t seen a woman elected president. I’m in no way thinking of the past or saying that things should have been different four years ago. I’m thinking about the present and the future. When I look my daughter in the eye and tell her that she can be anything she wants, I want to speak the truth.
For that to be true, we need to dissect the ideas of female politicians, not their clothes and makeup. We need to quit being sidetracked by this debate about whether mothers should work — a debate that has no clear answer and will never end — when what we should be talking about is paid maternity leave and more flexible work schedules for both men and women. And we need to quit referring to so many topics as women’s issues, which seems to me to connote a certain frivolousness. Finding a comfortable bra is a women’s issue. Child care and birth control are not.
I try to avoid getting political on this blog, but this matters to me. A lot. I want Eleanor to see that women deserve the same respect as men. That they are just as capable of leading. How can I say that those things are true in our society when we’ve never had a woman commander-in-chief?
All of this is to say that, Secretary of State Clinton, if you’re running in 2016, I’m in. And I’m bringing Eleanor with me.