Hillary Deserved Better. We All Deserved Better.

I’m not sure where to go from here. I wrote this piece last night, in hopes that Hillary would become the next president. I don’t have the energy to stay up and watch how this race plays out, so I’m going to publish this anyway and pass out, pretending for now like this is a nightmare. Things aren’t panning out the way I had hoped, but I think that much of what I wrote in this piece still rings true. I’m not going to give up hope — we can still make change. So here we go.

Hillary deserved a better opponent. She deserved an opponent who was worthy, one who could match her intelligence, compassion and tenacity. I know that some will attribute her victory to her opponent’s weaknesses, and some will think she only won because she’s a woman. I can breath a sigh of relief now that she’s won, but still I feel disappointed with how we got here.

I commend her bravery and her patience. I can only imagine how exhausted I would be if I was in her shoes. New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni wrote, “The humiliations that she suffered — and the public sympathy that she reaped — were inextricable from the dueling displays of male vanity around her.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I cast my vote for Hillary. I did not vote for her simply because of her gender. It’s impossible for me to completely separate my gender from my political views, because, as has been said so many times before: the personal is political. I’ll repeat that over and over again because it resonates so much with how this election has made me feel.

This election was not only political, but also entirely too personal. Over the last few months I’ve tried to write how I felt, hoping that once I sat down, my words would spew onto the page. They never did. There were too many emotions I felt, too many things to be angry about, too many actions to feel inspired by. That infamous line ― “grab them by the pussy” ― is still ringing in my ears. Who can forget it? As a female college student, rape culture is something that I cannot ignore. It is everywhere I look, from the man who presses himself into me from behind at a party to the boys who don’t ask before they touch. So, if the personal aspects of this election had been a quiet murmur before, after hearing “locker room talk” from a presidential candidate, this election became personal with a screaming roar. It was no longer to be dealt with whispers or faint murmurs; as women we had to get angry, get loud.

In no other election history has a candidate been so aggressively chastised, dismissed and shamed because of their gender. I hope we never see an election like this again. I hope we see not only one woman carrying the burden, but many. I hope that the next time a woman runs she is not called a “nasty woman” simply for speaking at the debates. I hope that next time a woman runs, her opponent is someone who doesn’t imply that he “wasn’t impressed” by her butt. Hillary deserved an opponent who did not resort to cheap shots at her gender.

I did not cast my vote for Hillary because I felt she was the “lesser of two evils.” I cast my vote for her because her career, spanning decades, has proven that she cares about human rights, international diplomacy, and gender equality. She has shown that she is passionate and she is capable. She has given her life to public service in order to better the lives of others.

I know that Hillary Clinton is not perfect ― I mean, who is? I know she has changed her stances, said things she should not have, and made decisions I do not agree with. But I think it would be strange if, over the course of her decades long career, she had not made errors. It would be strange if she had been perfect, every day from dawn to dusk. We cannot crucify her for her errors. I believe that she’s a better candidate today and she’ll be a better president tomorrow because she has made mistakes. The question then becomes, can we forgive her?

I can’t put into words how I feel about having elected a female president. It’s the little things. For the first time, the leader of our country is someone who understands what it feels like to walk alone at night and feel terrified of any movement. For the first time, the person in the Oval Office knows what it feels like to be the only woman in a room full of men, to be yelled at and belittled and still persevere. She’s been called “Shillary,” “bitch,” and countless other names, yet still, she perseveres. She knows what it feels like to have her appearance critiqued, in situations where the shoes she wears are of no importance. For the first time, I’ll feel just a little more connected to our president, because she knows what it’s like to navigate this world as a woman.

This election brought out the worst in people but it also brought out the best. This election showed me that this country is filled with citizens who are willing to stand up to hatred, people who are willing to stand up to bigotry, sexism, racism, and xenophobia. Some say that our country has never been more divided, but I feel that there’s an entire party, an entire nation of voters who hold dear the same values I do. This election has shown me that love trumps hate and that glass ceilings can be shattered. This election terrified me to my core, but it has also given me immense hope. Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to unite.