As I watched Hillary Clinton officially become the presidential nominee for the Democratic party, I couldn’t help but to get a bit teary-eyed. I’m a registered Republican, and though I am not personally a fan of Clinton, her nomination still means something to me. It should mean something to all women.
The year 1920 seems like such a long time ago, but when you think about it, some of our own grandparents were born before a time when women were allowed to vote. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers struggled for decades before they were finally allowed this basic right, and though voting seems like such an innate part of our lives now, back then it was a huge deal.
For so long, our society catered solely to men. They were born into opportunity, and whether they were worthy of their freedoms and their pedestals or not, they were still afforded them without question. During this time in history, women’s issues and women’s rights were hardly even a second thought of the men leading this country, so to see a woman standing at a podium, just an arm’s length away from being the potential leader of the free world, is such a symbolic moment of how far we’ve come.
I didn’t vote for Hillary in the primaries, and I’m still not positive that I would feel great about voting for her in the general election, but I don’t take having the opportunity to do so lightly. I was born and raised in the South, where a substantial part of the population is both conservative and religious. I’ve spent a lifetime of Sundays sitting in a pew, and I graduated from a Christian high school. And while I believe in God and Jesus, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t grow up with some serious resentment for the way the Bible laid things out for women. When I would read verses about how women were to respect and serve men, that they were to follow and obey their husbands because they were the leaders of the house, I would always wonder why.
I was raised by a man who told me I could do anything. From an early age, my dad instilled within me the values of confidence, hard work and respect for not just others, but myself as well. He taught me to stand tall and to stand up for myself and all that I believed in. He taught me that I could do anything that the boys could… and I believed him. So when my teachers would highlight where a woman’s place was (based specifically on the Bible), that she was to serve men, I would scratch my head and think, “But can’t I do anything? Can’t I be anything that I want to be?
Unfortunately, at the time I saw few examples of women to look to in order to prove my point that, yes, I could do anything and be any person that I chose to be. It makes my heart beam to know that little girls today won’t have to feel that way.
They won’t have to make believe that they can be leaders because they’ve got one standing right in front of them, telling them that their dreams can become a reality, telling them that they are important, that they can be whatever it is that they want to be when they grow up.
Hillary Clinton may not be my first choice of women who I would pick to lead the free world, but right now that doesn’t matter. At one point in our nation’s history, the thought of a woman standing in her shoes, clinching a presidential party nomination, was laughable to say the least. Her nomination is a monumental moment for all women — all the women who paved the way for her to stand on that platform, all the women fighting every day for their rights and liberties and all the women of the future who will be afforded more opportunities, who will be seen as equals and who will be given the chance to pursue their dreams because of the moment that Hillary Clinton was chosen by her peers to lead the Democratic party in the presidential race.
Yes, even a Republican conservative like me.
Hillary Clinton running for president is a big deal for every woman and special to every woman because we’ve worked so hard to get here. You don’t have to vote for her to appreciate the magnitude of what just happened. Republican or Democrat, this is a big deal for all women. This isn’t a political victory — it’s a universal one — and it’s proof to me and every little girl like me that dreams she can be whatever and whoever she wants to be that, yes, she can.
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