Hillary Clinton: Hold the “B” Word, Please

“By choosing a woman to run for our nation’s second highest office, you sent a powerful signal to all Americans. There are no doors we cannot unlock. We will place no limits on achievement.” — Geraldine Ferraro (1984)

Ferraro? “A four-million dollar…… I can’t say it, but it rhymes with ‘rich.’” — Barbara Bush

Twenty-Four Years. That’s how long it’s been since a woman (almost) made it to the top of America’s political ladder. Despite great strides by other women… some becoming members of Congress, Senators, even Governors, Nancy Pelosi’s 2002 election by her colleagues to lead Congress as Speaker of the House was the next major breakthrough into politics topmost ranks. Just two heartbeats from the presidency.

‘America. Love Her or Leave Her.’ That’s a catch-all phrase used by hard-liners to defend America against criticism. Right now… today… a political twist on that phrase might very well be ‘Hillary Clinton. Love Her or Hate Her.’ Has there ever been a single woman whose very name elicits both elation and revulsion within the ranks of everyday America? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who rides the middle rail on the topic of Hillary Clinton. Polarization is an apt description of her effect on American politics.

‘Hillary Cries!’ the headlines shout when during a particularly emotional moment her voice faltered, cracked, and her eyes glistened. ‘Hillary Attacks!’ scream the pundits when she dares to disagree with a political rival. She’s cold… calculating. She’s a Bitch!

We live in a country consumed with propping up the idea of family. A country where songs that proclaim, ‘Stand By Your Man,’ reach the top of the charts. But Hillary Clinton, after standing by HER man following a series of, shall we say, indiscretions, has been called an enabler… a lesbian… a dealmaker who, if she had a scrap of pride, would have left him flat. I guess we listen more to the music than the words.

“I’ve been called some names I’d be embarrassed to repeat in public. I’ve learned that my hairstyles and fashion choices provide endless fodder for public discussion and dissection. You know sometimes I’ll walk by and see somebody on TV talking about what I’m wearing and they will have imbued it with great meaning, ‘She chose that color to send a certain message.’ I did? I’ve been told to smile more, I’ve been told to smile less. I’ve been told to speak more loudly, I’ve been told to speak more softly. I’ve been told to not speak very much at all.” — Senator Hillary Clinton

We can do better than this, can’t we? In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, the political process is rife with sexism. But say what you will about Hillary, this country… our daughters… owe this woman an incredible debt of gratitude. Regardless of whether she wins or loses the presidency, she has blown the top right off whatever glass ceiling remained in American politics. Watching her one-on-one debate with Senator Obama not long ago brought tears to my eyes. That this event could happen in my lifetime was not something I would have thought possible.

Give pause before unleashing the ‘B’ word or, worse, the ‘C’ word. Think about today’s young women, many intelligent, hopeful, and ambitious. They’re watching Hillary… and wondering if ambition and success are worth the price she’s paying. If not Hillary, then perhaps one of those young women WILL be a future president. Perhaps one will reach even higher.

Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – whether or not in agreement with her politics – must acknowledge the accomplishments and sacrifice that Hillary Clinton has made for America… and for our daughters.

As for me, I can only hope that someone gives her a copy of this post. If so, I’d like to say, from the heart, ‘Thank you, Hillary.’

Posted by Mandy Crest, Blogger for In The Trenches Productions, The First Entertainment Website for Women over 40!

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 11:50 am  Comments (5)  
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OUR TIME IS NOW

Our time is now.

As a young girl growing up in the ‘60s, I was raised in a sheltered New England community. Back then, I had yet to see a female newscaster, a female doctor, a female astronaut, or a female soldier. My young mind would have thought such a thing impossible.

Not long ago, the mature woman, as presented to us by mass media, was obsessed with keeping her husband’s dirty shirt collars clean and his coffee cup filled. To be a woman relegated you to a narrowly defined path; you were not encouraged, or expected, to wish for more. Television and movies portrayed the over-40 woman as asexual, content to tend to the needs of others at the expense of her own. What dreams they may once have harbored, now buried beyond reach. The worn cliché of a woman never admitting to being over 29 years of age is grounded in fact; to admit to anything else was to put oneself in danger of being deemed obsolete.

Flash to the 21st century — today. What a difference! From Hollywood to Washington DC, female role models abound. Together we have witnessed, and continue to witness, history in the making. History made when Nancy Pelosi took to the podium as the first-ever female US Speaker of the House. History now unfolding as Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman in history to find herself in serious contention for the position of United States President. Whether or not Hillary is elected, the landscape of US politics is forever changed. For the better.

Our time is now.

One need look no further than Candice Bergan’s character, Shirley Schmidt of ABC’s Boston Legal, to see a woman of action. Age is no barrier to Shirley, nor to Candice. They’re both smart, successful, vibrant, and confident in their sexuality. No wonder Candice was chosen to play the part.

Sally Field, Diane Keaton, Teri Hatcher, are just a few of the many women over 40 who have, throughout their careers, helped to shape the collective consciousness of more than one generation. Our daughters look, as did we, to these older women, and to the characters they play. In them, they see walking, talking evidence of that which is possible; that they too are free to pursue their dreams.

The beautiful and intelligent Vanessa Williams, age 44, gracing of cover of February’s More Magazine, it’s 10th Anniversary Edition, said, “I’m enjoying every moment. In your twenties, you think, I’ve got to prove something. In your forties, you don’t.” Bravo, Vanessa.

Our time is now.

We’re wiser at 40 than we were at 30. But to those of us nearing 60, 70, or older, the 40-year old is but a child. Most of us, sadly not all, have, by the time we’ve reached 40, learned some lessons along the way. For sure, we’ve learned a thing or two about life, and about our ability to cope and adapt when change rears its head. We embrace our dreams; no longer afraid of failure, for failure is just another lesson to be learned. We refuse to live a life of regret forged by an unwillingness to act upon our dreams.

Face it, 40 isn’t the new 30 any more than 60 is the new 40. But so what? We no longer feel compelled to lie about our age. We’ve earned those numbers and do not shrink from admitting them. We no longer feel it necessary to add “for my age” to the end of each sentence when we see ourselves in a mirror and admit that we look pretty good. Far from hanging up the “out of order” sign, aging prepares us to experience that which is to come. Our confidence, not to be confused with youth’s false bravado, is real, and comes from deep within. We’ve learned to trust our instincts in our quest to realize our potential.

Our time is now!

Speaking for myself, this is one over-40 woman who will not sit on the sidelines, content to watch the young girls have all the fun.

My Time is now. How about you?

Posted by Mandy Crest, Blogger for Women Over 40 Rock! and In The Trenches Productions