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Hillary Clinton: The OG Feminist

Nov. 4, 2016
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She is most well-known for her role as former First Lady of the United States. However, there is so much more to Hillary Clinton than just former First Lady. There is a side of Hillary Clinton that we don’t often get to see, but it has always been there – Hillary the feminist. From being a high-powered attorney while her husband was the governor of Arkansas, to becoming the first U.S. First Lady to earn a postgraduate degree, Hillary has low-key been a feminist since before some of us were born. 

Clinton recently contributed a piece of her story to Humans of New York. We got a glimpse of the struggle that she went through as one of only a few young women taking a Harvard entrance exam – and the sexism and harassment that she went through as a result. We also got a glimpse of her vulnerability – something that she admits she has learned to hide very well. “I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions” (Humans of New York, 2016). I believe that many women (including myself) can relate to Clinton in this respect. If we show emotions in the corporate world, we are viewed as weak and less than our male counterparts. On the other hand, if we are aggressive, take charge bosses, we are viewed as bitches. A fine line most definitely exists between the two sides, and it can be challenging for women to walk that line and keep the balance. 

Hillary Clinton went on to become a student at Yale Law School and later became the first woman to become a full partner at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas. Talk about breaking barriers! After marrying Bill Clinton, Hillary chose to keep her maiden name, Rodham, further solidifying not only Hillary’s OG feminist status, but also solidifying how truly awesome husband Bill was and is for being so cool about that. After becoming the First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary was mercilessly criticized for not fitting into the cookie-cutter image of what a first lady should be. The press and the public saw her as a bit of a hippie feminist, not a politician’s wife. So as not to hurt her husband’s image and his up-and-coming political career, Hillary eventually took her husband’s last name and began to play the part that the public felt she should play. Some might view this move as weak, but I believe it was quite the opposite. How many of us wives can say we would not have done the same exact thing in the interest of helping our husband advance in his career? In the interest of helping our family to live better? We as women very often sacrifice for the greater good, and there is nothing weak about that. 

Clinton’s political career is nothing to scoff at either – she is a legit politician. As a kid, I remember often hearing the elders in my family joke that it was really Hillary who was secretly running the county, simply using Bill as a mouthpiece. She was extremely active as our country’s First Lady, spearheading initiatives involving children’s welfare, healthcare, and of course, women’s rights. During her time as First Lady of the United States, Clinton helped create the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women. After her husband’s presidency ended, Hillary continued to break barriers in politics. She became the first wife of a president to run for a national elected office – and she won. Not only did she win the election for New York State Senator (twice!), but she was also the first female Senator of New York. My girl Hillary is a motherf***ing force to be reckoned with. 

Fast forward to the present, Hillary Clinton is now facing her biggest foe yet – Donald Trump. Her opponent for presidency seems to be a bit sexist (to say the least), but she is handling it with grace. At each debate, she has relied on the facts only, but also managed to throw in a bit of shade here and there to keep things spicy. Clinton has carried herself like the lady she is throughout this election season. Despite Trump’s accusations, Clinton has had to do very little to make him look bad – he has put his foot in his mouth at every turn. During this go-around for presidency, Hillary has really let her feminist flag fly, which has helped her campaign a great deal. She has been able to humanize her image and seem more relatable than ever, particularly to women. Trump’s constantly emerging public faux pas against women has only strengthened Clinton’s image and campaign. She has gone through so much in her lifetime – sexism, scandals, and scrutiny. If anyone has the strength to emerge triumphant, it is definitely Hillary Clinton. 


References 

Humans of New York (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/150127870371/i-was-taking-a-law-school-admissions-test-in-a

PBS.org (n.d.). Biography: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/biography/clinton-hillary/ 


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