Hillary Clinton’s Legacy to our Daughters

It’s been 4 weeks since Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump’s electoral count win - currently, in the counting, Clinton’s popular vote lead has grown over 2 million. I have to admit, I’ve been having a really hard time with this. Experts say there are five stages of grief. And I feel like I’ve been manically flip-flopping among them. I’m still going through the first two stages— denial and anger — though my denial has waned. I’ve even grown to accept what I can’t change — the fifth of the five steps. 

What the other side doesn’t get, is that this is not the pain of defeat. As an American voter, more times than not my candidate has lost. That comes with the territory. This — this one, however, is different. It’s different for two reasons. One is the Pandora’s box of unbridled hate and racism that the other candidate has condoned, if not indeed, singlehandedly unleashed on the American public and the world stage. As a supporter of freedom for all and a defender of human rights, that’s probably the hardest to take on a grand scale.

But the other story, to me, is more personal and insidious. And is why I’m now speaking out. It’s definitely not a new story. Hardly. This story women have lived over and over again from generation to generation – and continues to persist in the greatest country on earth – the story of the glass ceiling, which is looking cloudier by the day, that women can’t seem to get themselves out from under. The story of another overly qualified and experienced woman being passed over in favor of the inexperienced and underqualified man, full of empty promises and bravado, signifying nothing. And the story of hundreds of thousands of girls and young women envisioning the possibility that they too could one day become President of the United States, seeing their hopes – and ours – dashed.

Yes, I’ve had conservatives explain to me, we would love to have a woman President — just not THAT woman. I’ve read Facebook posts from even fellow Democrats who chose not to exercise their right to vote, citing the miserable candidate pool. And I realize how good a job the alt-right did at painting a picture of the female candidate as sinister, conniving, and lying.

How well Rudy Giuliani was able to mask his fall from sanity by engaging thousands of Republicans in a chorus of “Lock her up, lock her up.” Meanwhile, General Petraeus, who was actually convicted of mishandling classified information, is being considered by these same people for high office.

Hillary Clinton deserved prison while her male rival was contemporaneously settling multi-million dollar lawsuits for actual fraudulent business dealings.

How did the alt-right get away with it? The truth is, it wasn’t all that difficult. Men and women alike have been wary of strong women since the beginning of time… since Eve in the garden.. And even chronologically before her… with the midrashic tale of Lillith.

Women who attempt to challenge the role history has defined for us, and defy expectations, are suspect. Hillary is too “cold” or “unemotional” were complaints commonly showered on her. Her voice is too angry, loud, high, shrill, or any of a number of adjectives. She doesn’t smile enough. As if these are necessary qualifications for the job of leader of the free world. But this wasn’t the first time, nor unfortunately, will it be the last time we women hear this.

We’ve all been there. I’ve been told — we’ve all been told — that we’d be much prettier if we smiled more. We’ve been told our skirts are too short. Or too long. Or, why aren’t we wearing a skirt? Or, we just have to do something with our hair.

We’ve been told we’re too emotional. Not emotional enough. Too tall. Too short. Too skinny. Too fat. And whether or not we’re transmitting this unfortunate legacy directly to our daughters, they’re learning it just the same.

I can’t get out of my mind the image of young girls all over this country, clutching their Hillary Clinton dolls, eyes brimming with hope and possibility. And I feel like we can’t let them down.

As recently as in my parents’ generation, few women were given the opportunities that our girls have today. And yet, though women can study and excel in any subject they want, the jobs are not necessarily waiting for them on the other side, and often when they are, the pay is not comparable. As a science teacher, I am especially attuned to the role women have been relegated to in the history of scientific discovery, and the handful of brilliant and amazing women that have been able to defy it.

How they did it, and how our young women can today is the subject of a project I’m really excited to introduce to you, Rocket Girls.com.
Rocket Girls.com offers support and guidance for young women wanting to pursue a career in science and math.
As rocket girls, we can learn a lot from Hillary Clinton, and even take a page out of her playbook.

Hillary Clinton showed us how to be a strong woman.

We too must be strong.
Strong in the face of adversity. Few women have been tried in the private and public eye as much as Hillary Clinton.

She showed us how to be humble in the face of mistakes.
We too should show such humility.

She showed us how to be attentive in the face of authentic criticism.
Useful criticism can help us become our best selves.

She showed us how to be unruffled in the face of baseless aggression.
Hateful and harmful criticism does not deserve our attention.

She showed us how to be gracious in the face of victory.
Our successes should be everyone’s successes.

She showed us how to be resilient in the face of defeat.
Like Hillary Clinton, when we fall, we must pick ourselves up and continue moving forward.

Rocket Girls are strong, authentic, gracious and resilient young women who want to defy convention and achieve at their fullest potential in math and science. If this is you, won’t you join us at Rocket Girls.com?

Watch the video above for the full lesson.

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