The End of the World As We Know It: When POTUS is a Woman

hrctrail-cover-photo.originalThere she was, a beacon, a symbol. A woman speaking her mind. A woman holding her ground. A woman challenging us to find another better way. A woman gathering thinkers. A woman inspiring girls. A woman remembering where she came from.

I voted for the POTUS who made history, the one of brown and white-skinned parents. The one who stirred hearts and broke barriers. The one who then asked her to serve as Secretary of State.

Some of us whispered a silent thank you when she agreed. I did. I held my breath when he introduced her. And finally, there she stood, Hillary Clinton worn down by the campaign trail but willingly stepping forward into the spotlight to serve the country, helping repair what another had put asunder.

In the glittering moment, the two of them together for the first time since the voting, they re-framed their relationship and she reclaimed her place on that stage. He, graciously welcoming. She, graciously accepting.

I scanned her face for the driven nature and the calculating spirit others swore made up the bedrock of her character. I found no such thing there on the GPS of her life. Instead, I saw the beginnings of a cautious enthusiasm about her role in the future. Were the seeds of now planted then? One could hope. One could hope a leader understood the arc of her career and was able to follow it to some distant place.

I asked myself which one among us would have served an opponent with such grace and heart? You? Me? And would we have remained silent about the past and forged onward into the future, playing so well for the team? Would we have offered that gift of forgiveness and moved onward minus the bitterness felt by others all around us?

A year passed, then another. Every year and every airplane mile of her term as Secretary and my respect for her grew. Each country in which our standing was repaired, each restoration of a boundary with another country, and each shift toward collaboration sparked my interest in her. I marveled. I read about her and focused on what I could learn, copying Hillary’s ability to not let people get under her skin.

One day she announced, she was running for POTUS, again. This time on her own terms. This time knowing more about what to expect. This time benefitting from the experience of the only woman who came before. This time passing advice down to herself.

Even those charged with helping her get ready hadn’t known exactly how to get her ready. How could they? There was no template for a woman seeking the path to the White House.

I waited with my friends, I watched, needing a her to do things just right, to make all the right decisions, to say all the right things.

Reporters whined. They couldn’t get close enough. They complained she kept her distance. Or that she was aloof. Or remote. They portrayed her as cold. They pushed in, as if to burrow inside her psyche, seeking any crack, any perceived flaw. The more they pushed, the more she set boundaries.

It was a space invasion. A complete invasion of personal space. Which one of us could tolerate others so close, so many wanting intimacy without having earned our trust? Which one of us could breathe with so many staring into our past and around us, trying to push us aside, dismiss us, or convince others of our unworthiness?

When she pulled back to keep her focus, I nodded. I see you, I whispered, seeking replenishment in the stillness. Good idea.

I whispered to her, often. My women’s group sent her wishes. We spoke of our longing for her to remain strong in the face of so much discontent. Stay safe, we prayed. Surround yourself with ones you can trust and who can see you for who you are, who can see your clearest intention. May the bodyguards and rope lines keep you safe. Please, keep safe.

There she was, a beacon, a symbol. A woman speaking her mind. A woman holding her ground. A woman challenging us to find another better way. A woman gathering thinkers. A woman inspiring girls. A woman remembering where she came from.

I learned she danced with the people in other countries.

Some here don’t want her to dance. Some are afraid she will dance. Some are jealous she danced with others and found a place to laugh. Why won’t she do that with us? I answer, she is there for the seeing, right in front of you, but you have been taught to not see her.

Some are afraid she will grant women a place they don’t deserve. Or, that she might cause men to lose power or to be controlled, as men have controlled women. Who would want that? Men would not want that.

Confused, my mind searches for answers. What could frighten grown men enough that they dissolve in rage, spew unbecoming slurs, and lose their minds at the thought of this woman as POTUS? What could be so terrifying some men will sell their soul to keep her from a roundish room in the center of it all?

Does the mere presence of a woman end the game, the game of power being withheld from half of the population? The game of how long some can hold the fort called the White House? The game of preventing women from becoming something other than support personnel?

No one else has her experience, I whispered.

A sound came floating up to me, up on the breeze to the balcony from the street below. Women were singing. They were dancing. There were men among the women. She came out and danced among them.

Kim Cottrell is an author, educator, and speaker. She blogs at ahealthystepmother.com and is hard at work on a book of tales for stepmothers. Kim writes regularly about self-image, change, and living inside one’s skin. She wants our society to grow a new self-image. 

Image via HillaryClinton.com

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