My sweet Lucille, this was not the morning to which I'd hoped you'd wake up. Our country is very clearly still living within the confines of a patriarchy. But - make no mistake - our knuckles have grazed the glass, and while we were unable to completely shatter that ceiling, there are fractures. Someday, my love, someday. Maybe it will be you.
|I sincerely hope I can pull this letter out in four years, and it will mean something in a way it didn't this year.|
Last night, Hillary Rodham Clinton, won the election and has become the President elect. At the turn of the year, Barack Obama, our first black president will end his tenure, and Clinton will become President of the United States of America. This is not a letter about whether I like her or disliked the man who ran against her. This, Lucille, is entirely about the fact that a WOMAN will now hold the highest office in this land. And that, no matter where you stand on party lines, deserves respect.
It is monumental.
Clinton’s road to the White House began long before you ever existed, and women before her have been quietly, and some quite loudly, paving the way for this very moment. We read a book called Rad American Woman A-Z, and some of these warriors are named. If you turn back the clocks you will find a remarkable reel of women that illuminate a bold future for you.
When you were born a female, a gender you currently express, you were born with an inherent set of challenges. Our culture places a heavy emphasis on the material, especially looks. According to magazines, and TV shows, and movies, and the pervasive noise that is our world, you will be judged, at least initially, on how you look. In your lifetime you will fight misogyny, sexism, expectations to be married and have children, rape culture, imposed body image assumptions, and a menagerie of double-standards. Lucille, I am working to arm you. To save you from the language of the crawl that has formed in my own head, the one I lived with, to something braver, something much more confident; we watch Wonder Woman and talk about how she is strong and saves herself. We read books about girls like Molly Lou Mellon who walk proudly while dismissing the judgements of others. We talk about the different shapes and sizes and colors of our friends, and how some families have two Mamas, and some have to Daddies.
The work of women is not done, my love, and we’re nowhere near eradicating gender expectations, but we are moving in the right direction. You and I are part of a gender history fraught with blood and toil, misandry, rape and murder – but we are also part of a history bedazzled with the likes of Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Nellie Bly, Bessie Coleman, Jane Addams, Amelia Earhart, Shirley Chisholm, Gloria Steinem, and now, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Today, another giant crack in that ceiling has formed, and if you tilt your face up to that fracture, my dear, you will feel the rain serpentine its way through and fall upon your cheeks like a kiss. As your mama, I can say that you, Lucille, can one day be president. That’s what this is about. Today is a day in history that will forever be marked by progress for the women in this country.
Whether you add your name to that very public list will be your prerogative. Regardless, I will love you for all your failures and triumphs, whether you are known or unknown to the masses. You won’t remember today, not by a long shot, and Clinton’s tenure as president, however far it reaches, will be a blip in your history. But we women will be watching, fully aware of the public misogyny and sexist rubbish Madam President will face. I, as a woman and your mama, will be watching closely, hoping that despite the politics and policy, she continues to forge a road for us.
Today, Lucille, I just need you to know that anything is possible. And I will reiterate that sentiment for the rest of my life, calling upon the names of these women who have come before you, as you encounter whatever challenges may be ahead.
Lucille, a woman is President.