"Well, I hope you're not voting for her just because she's a woman," he protested, appalled at the very idea.
"She's best qualified," I said with conviction, but I let it drop.
"Just because she's a woman..." How can I explain to this guy -- a good friend, with progressive values -- what that means to me?
As a member of the first class of women to graduate West Point, my experiences inform what I know about being out in front. Outnumbered 40 to 1 in the Corps of Cadets, each of us knew that everything we did -- every test score, every workout, every haircut, every wayward glance -- was examined and judged in the most negative light possible.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has undergone that scrutiny almost her entire life. Attending Yale Law in the early '70s, working for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate scandal, trying (in vain) to keep her own name after marriage. No woman could navigate those waters without enduring resentment, skepticism, even abuse.
"Just because she's a woman, her courage in daring, over and over again, to reach for jobs that match her talent means that she's called 'ruthless' and 'ambitious.'"
Just because she's a woman... she's been under relentless scrutiny (and attack) for much of her adult life. And when she measures her responses, when she's careful about what she says, she's called "chilly," "guarded," "calculated." But she's come through fire, and I recognize in her the fearlessness, the commitment, the determination that doing the right thing will always be worth it, that I see in so many of the military women who are my friends.
Just because she's a woman, her courage in daring, over and over again, to reach for jobs that match her talent means that she's called "ruthless" and "ambitious."
Just because she's a woman, her desire to serve, to achieve, to step up to great challenge, is called "selfish." Yet this is the same desire I saw in my friend Becky Margiotta Kanis commanding a Special Operations company, in the first women Army Rangers, in my West Point women classmates.
It is the opposite of selfishness: the driving desire to put your own capabilities and character in service to a greater cause, because you know that you can. And in doing so, you will make the world better for others.
I support Hillary not "just because she's a woman," or even just because she's the best qualified -- but because as a woman, she's survived tests of character that her male opponents can't even imagine.
So in my head and in my heart -- #ImWithHer.