At the start of the Democratic primary I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. I was excited that we had an opportunity to have a woman in the top office and I felt as though she had the necessary tools to tackle issues of the economy, the war, education and health care. But then, by the end of January when it was released that Hillary turned down an offer to appear in Vogue Magazine, citing concerns that she would open herself up to criticism by appearing too soft and feminine, I had a change of heart.
"We were told by Ms. Clinton's camp that they were concerned if Clinton appeared in Vogue that she would appear too feminine," a Vogue spokesman said in a statement at the time.
This was a turning point for me in this campaign.
As a woman, I was so deeply disappointed by the reasoning behind her decision. She had worked so hard to build up an impenetrable wall of toughness around herself in order to appear strong enough to hold the highest office in the country, and she was afraid that a spread in Vogue would bring that crumbling down around her. The message that decision sent to all the women of this country is, that in order to be women of power we have to deny our femininity -- in essence the very fact that we are women. This is a notion that I completely reject, and from that moment on in the campaign, I rejected Hillary the candidate, as well.
As the state by state race to the nomination between Hillary and Barack went on, I continued to watch Hillary Clinton the robotic candidate going through her paces; her consistent messaging, her strategic fear mongering, the 3am phone call ad. Not only was she afraid to expose her femininity, but she was also unable to convey her humanity. While there was never any question in my mind that she was an intelligent, capable, shrewd and calculating candidate, I continued to wonder (and still do) who is she?? What really moves her? What is she passionate about -- really?? And apparently I was not alone, because the country was riveted by a rare uncalculated moment in her campaign, where in a New Hampshire coffee shop after a disappointing primary loss in Iowa, she actually showed some emotion. That moment helped her win New Hampshire. But one still had the sense that this moment was a mistake, a slip, and in fact, we never saw that Hillary again in the campaign.
Before the Saturday speech in which Hillary suspended her campaign, the question was raised on CNN and other networks: "Did sexism play a role in this campaign?"
Was there sexism in this campaign -- were sexist remarks thrown Hillary's way? Absolutely. However was it really the 'glass ceiling' that stopped her short of achieving her goals? NO.
As a professional woman, I know that a glass ceiling does exist in this country -- the facts simply wouldn't support claiming otherwise. There are still fewer women at the top of Fortune 500 companies than there are solvent airline companies. And it's a well-known fact, that women still make less than men for comparable jobs. I think we all know, especially those of us who are female executives, that the glass ceiling is firmly intact. Having said that, I believe and know through personal experience that women are completely capable of breaking through those glass ceilings. But we can only do it -- and we will only do it, with our femininity intact. How can others believe we are strong as we claim to be if we don't dare to be women -- just as we are -- in our attempt to fill these roles as leaders?
After years of a bobble head in the top office, this country seems to be asking for competent leadership and a new approach to solving our problems, which will require intelligence in the classic sense, as well as emotional intelligence. As far as I'm concerned, Hillary disqualified herself on this last point.
Unlike one of the main themes in her resignation speech, my contention is that Hilary didn't lose the race because she is female. On the contrary, I think she lost because she was unable to show emotional intelligence and selective vulnerability, for fear of appearing too feminine. This inability to show herself -- to show her humanity, her sense of empathy and ultimately her femininity -- was the glass ceiling of her own creation, a glass ceiling that she was unable to break.