I've never been much for feminism. And as a girl that grew up an academic, and went on to attend Barnard College, Columbia University's all-women counterpart nestled ever so safely and liberally on the Upper West Side of New York, that may seem odd to confess.
I've sat through countless lectures and seminars where the male gaze found its way into conversation. Where sexist tropes were debated. Where the literary canon, full only it seems of white male Western writers, was constantly called into question.
And perhaps, it's just because of this that I never felt the need to identify as such. I was a girl who found herself protected by books and literature and a probing community of thinkers who weren't afraid to ask why. I lived in a place where women ran a school for women, and somehow, we didn't set the thing up in flames.
As a tour guide, I weekly rattled off statistics which validated the existence of an all-women's college in this modern day state. Rattled them off to a prospective audience who, no matter how progressive, always seemed to wonder just how necessary this sort of institution was. Sure, in the beginning, when women weren't allowed to attend university, what an amazing answer it was, fought for by so many strong, brave, smart women. But now, in 2016, where women are said to no longer find themselves so obviously discriminated against, where ceilings are no longer supposed to be made of glass and we're all such better people, doesn't a gendered situation such as this hurt the progress we've made?
Well, how quick are we now to presume the longevity of something relatively new?
Barnard was created in 1887. Created due to the unprecedented efforts of a group of determined women, namely one by the name of Annie Nathan Meyer. But ultimately, it was not named Meyer College, it was named for a man. Frederick A.P. Barnard, the then President of Columbia who acted quite the revolutionary in his failed pursuit to admit women to the university. Even a women's college, the product of women, had to be named for a man in order to be taken seriously.
It wasn't until 1987 that Columbia began allowing women to enroll. 1987. And that's in New York. An Ivy League school in New York. And it was the last of it's elite group to do so.
At Barnard, over 60% of the faculty are women, compared to the national average of 46%. Women's college graduates are two times as likely to earn Graduate Degrees. It's a unique place. One that's devoted wholly to the success of its students, and more so, the success of women.
I've sat in many a class with many a woman just like Hillary Clinton, a lady-loving Wellesley grad herself. Women who know the answer, and aren't afraid to raise their hand. Women who don't know if theirs is the answer, and aren't afraid to raise their hand. Women who are still figuring it out, and aren't afraid to raise their hand.
Hillary Clinton is smart. She's smart and she's not afraid to raise her hand. And the fact that a country of little girls and little boys, and grown women and grown men got to see a woman like that, who took a risk and raised her hand, well, it doesn't really matter if she didn't get called on.
She still did it. And she did it for you. A country who's still largely unsure how well a woman can really do things.
There's lots to work on in this country. There always is. America isn't something stagnant, something present. It's not something you can point at and hold down. It's something that is perpetually becoming, something that's about to be. It's not a moment or an election. And what an offensive belief to take for even a minute.
There are plenty of people out there like Hillary Clinton. I know a good number of them. Smart women, and kind men, working hard for other people. And to be reminded of that fact, well, there's no loss in that.
[Photo via @hillaryclinton]