feminism, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, homophobia, inauguration day, Melody S. Owens, misogyny, Oprah Winfrey, Politics, presidental race, racism, Shirley Chisolm, women, women in politics
Dear Mrs. Clinton:
On this day when I find myself more alienated from my own country and government than ever before in my life, I wanted to write on behalf of myself, my spouse, my friends, my colleagues, my family, and all the little girls out there who are still too young to understand despair.
I don’t know who first said “all politics are local,” but for me all politics are personal. My opinions about government and its value, and my hopes for positive change in the world have all been shaped by my own experiences. The world into which I was born had white men at the helm, women restricted at home, people of color in their place (below and behind) and gay people invisible. Colonialism, racism, misogyny and homophobia were palpable evils, apparent in daily life, seemingly monolithic. But then, to my relief and delight, this order was riled and tossed by the civil rights movement, and then feminism, and then the gay rights movement, encouraging me and millions of others to work for change. I did my own battles with patriarchy, institutional prejudice, ignorance, fear and loathing, at home, at school, at work and in life. Through all of this, and despite prominent women leaders in other countries, I never thought I would live to see a woman as American president.
We had inklings of possibility, though, Shirley Chisolm, Geraldine Ferraro…when it was suggested that Oprah Winfrey run for president, this most popular of American women, a media mogul who was on television every day, said that she would never be able to endure the personal scrutiny. It became clear that taking on this role, bashing into the high white male brick wall and slicing at the glass ceiling, was going to require endurance, brains, persistence, steely nerve and a lion-like courage, not to mention the qualifications to lead the United States of America. Where was such a woman to be found?
You stepped forward, and your candidacy unleashed an unprecedented firestorm of ugliness, which you faced with bravery and grace. I am grateful that you chose to pay homage to all the millions of unknown women who came before, who lived through atrocities, suffered in silence, died at the hands of oppressors, paid a heavy price to have their voices heard, and never dreamed of a political landscape that might give us a woman president, not by writing or teaching or advocating, but by putting yourself, your face, your family and your life on the line. I am grateful that you fought with honor. I am grateful that you endured the vile behavior of your opponent without stooping to his level. I am grateful that you ran, and gave us all a glimmer of hope. I may not live to see a woman president now, but for the remainder of my life I can say with pride that I fought with Hillary, and for that I am eternally, eternally grateful.
©Melody S. Owens, Poets Sinews, 2017. Reuse with permission.
Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Linda Gray MacKay said:
Thanks so much to you, Melody and to Hillary for doing what you did to make the world a better place for all men and women, boys and girls. I am very grateful!! We shall overcome some day!