This comes to you from Susan Otcenas as she muses on what her mother taught her.
When I was a child, I was raised to believe women could do and be whatever they wanted. My mom went to college and became a chemist when I was in middle school. It seemed a given that my sisters and I would go to college. And we did. We started businesses; one a restaurant, another an exercise physiology practice, and me an apparel company. Of the 4 of us, only 2 had children.
In short, it seemed to me that our generation (we are aged 44-57) could have limitless possibilities. We wouldn’t be bound by traditions and expectations about what women should be or do, or how we should present ourselves. And it seemed to me unthinkable that despite evidence to the contrary, women would be elected to the highest offices in the country, as they have been in nearly every other first world democracy. It was just a matter of time.
And yet, here we are. I’m 50 years old and a woman has held neither the presidency nor the vice presidency. Arguably the brightest, most experienced, well-spoken, best prepared and most thoughtful candidate has now been forced out of the race. And our “choice” in the next election will come down to voting for a straight white male septuagenarian (the shouting magical thinker with a weak ticker or the bumbling stumbling handsy guy with a weak mind) over the demented immoral incompetent straight white male septuagenarian currently occupying the space.
And so, at 50 years old, I’ve resigned myself to what I’ve known in my heart all along; we women have been sold a lie. And that too many of our “sisters” are complicit in perpetuating the status quo. Apparently strong, smart capable women will be allowed only so much leeway before we tear them down for being too strong, too smart, too capable. Elizabeth Warren’s story is one that every strong smart capable woman understands. How hard it is to maintain a balance and a public demeanor that doesn’t appear too “overbearing”, too “strident”, too “bossy”, while still needing to get (and getting) shit done.
I’m tired. And discouraged.
Consider this before you cast your next vote.