Election Day: A special post

This morning I voted for a woman for president.

Those who know me personally hear a lot about my political views. There are many who say that politics has no place in writing. I disagree, in many respects, but I understand that me telling you who to vote for is not really what I want to be doing with this platform. Mostly, what I want to do here is talk about the writing that moves me, the art of story, and, of course, the stories I undertake to write.

That said, today is a historic day. Today, women in this country were given the opportunity to vote for a nominee to a major political party who is one of us. Regardless of what the numbers are when the polls close, no one can take that away from us. We have made a dent in the cage again today, my loves. It is not broken, but each day we are closer to demolishing it.

In my work, I write a lot of women. I read a lot of women, too. If you’ve followed this far, you’ve probably figure out that being a woman is something simultaneously important to me and frustrating. I think it is that way for most women. We are scraping together pride in the face of a society that tells us not to be proud. That is the one unifying factor of our cultural representation of women: shame. You can dress it up however you like, but that is what it is. It is normal for women to hate their bodies. It is normal for women to punish themselves. It is normal for women to eat the blame. It is normal.

Nowhere has that narrative been so active than in this election.

I don’t want to talk about emails, or aloofness, or war-mongering. I want to talk about how women are not saints.

This series of tweets by Jessica Ellis rolled across my newsfeed a few days ago, and I think that it is the most real thing I have ever read. Many people have pointed out that our society has a Madonna-Whore complex when it comes to how we tell stories about women. Either a woman is a saint, or she is a monster. She is the precious flower waiting to be saved, the sweet embodiment of kindness and love, or she is a dark seductress, a violent, demented being manipulating all of us to death.

Can we all just acknowledge that shit is more complicated than that? Take a moment, right here, to say that woman can be gray? Because we can be. We are.

I was told recently at work that someone from another company considered me “very competent, but not assertive enough.” I’m paraphrasing slightly, but there you have it. For the record, the person who said that was a woman. This sounds like valid critique. Be more assertive is the call of the professional woman, right? Lean in. Do more.

Many have pointed out that assertiveness is a catch-22 for women. I want to talk about how women are never good enough. We are never going to be good enough as long as we are playing by others’ rules. Hillary Clinton knows this. She has shown it over and over again – not intentionally, surely. Women are not allowed grayness. Clinton’s campaign focuses entirely on her morality. Focuses on how she is good enough. She didn’t have a choice in that – given the election climate and her opponent, even a man would have been running on integrity and experience. But it wouldn’t have been defensive. That defensiveness, that rigorous proof of her identity as the good woman, is doomed to fail among those who will never consider a woman good enough.

But for those of us who understand that women are people? That they are allowed mistakes the same as men? That they are sometimes wrong?

Rooting for a woman as a woman is complicated. There is always an allegation, spoken or otherwise, that we are only doing it because of our shared gender identity. That we are selling out just to see someone that looks like us get ahead. I can’t deny that I want to see someone like me, who shares my gendered experiences, in a place of power. I shouldn’t need to defend that. Having lawmakers and executives from a multiplicity of backgrounds creates a better likelihood that everyone will be represented. That is how democracy works. Homogeneity is the bane of a democratic system. And yet, there are those who would tell you that my vote should not be considered valid because of a perceived bias. That I should not be proud of this day.

I am proud. I will continue to be proud. And I will cross my fingers that, come January, there will be a woman in the White House.

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Author: Amanda J. McGee

Food and books are my passions. When I'm not planting a garden or working my day job, I can often be found writing genre fiction. Also I like to take hikes.

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