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Why can't women relate to Hillary?

You have to hand it to Hillary Clinton.

Her list of accomplishments bears a striking resemblance to what every girl writes in her diary at about the age of 14 concerning her goals in life.

The teen diary life-accomplishment list reads something like this: Go to college. Be the class valedictorian. Have a great career. Be on the cover of Vogue. Make a positive impact on the world.

Oh yeah — be the first woman president.

As she stands at the threshold of accomplishing all those dreams, Hillary Clinton finds herself disliked by some segment — it's hard to say exactly how large — of the population, including women.

But what's wrong? Hillary espouses everything that young women should look up to.

She's a great role model. It's not like everything was handed to her. There's a story that at about age 14, when most girls draft their dreams in pink ink in cloth-bound journals, Hillary wrote a letter to NASA, asking what she needed to do to become an astronaut like Alan Shepard.

"Back came a curt reply," wrote the author of a 2005 article that appeared in Newsday. "Girls are not being recruited by the nation's space program."

It's like something out of a Nancy Drew mystery novel. By the end of the story, the woman who was put down in the beginning shows men that she's capable of as much or more than they are, winning over their respect and admiration.

I've sometimes thought that if I were to meet Nancy Drew in person, I wouldn't like her very much. And for no particular reason. After all, what's not to like about a pretty, well-dressed and popular girl who cares deeply about her country and appears to have it all – even hard times to overcome?

In her public career as an attorney, the First Lady and U.S. Senator has had her ups and downs. Large ups came from being a health-care policymaker in the early Clinton years, and from being elected to the U.S. Senate.

Downs came in the form of a young lady named Monica Lewinsky, and the failure of the aforementioned health care package. But at the end of the day, there seems to be something in her story that everyone – housewife to feminist to politician – can relate to.

About all she needs is to have had cancer.

Her career has spanned from Yale to the White House to the Senate. She was the first-ever commencement speaker at Wellsley College. She's was even on the cover of Vogue in December of 1998.

And if you really think about it, there's every indication that she'd be one hell of an effective President. It's not like she's inexperienced, as one might say about Obama. It's not as though she's anti-establishment, as one might say about Howard Dean. It's not like she wouldn't know how to weigh the pros and cons of an issue or be able to influence Congress and the judiciary toward making the best decision for the majority of the American people, as one might still say about George W. Bush.

She's had her private life made public spectacle and, through some combination of shrewd ability and luck, managed to come out appearing as some kind of life survivor, which she deserves credit for being, as do we all.

"Before Lewinsky, the country saw her as powerful and pushy, and Americans still like their women weak and wimpy," Esme Taylor, founder of The Hillary Clinton Forum, one of the first online message boards devoted to the then-First Lady, commented to a reporter in 1998. "Now she's the one who's risen above it all, who is being presidential."

So why don't many women, including myself, feel we can relate to her in some way?

"Either Mrs. Clinton is, or used to be, dumb as a post, or she made this story up," sniffed Amy Ridenour in her blog for the National Center for Public Policy Research when Hillary's astronaut tale hit the wires. "It simply would not be possible, unless one were in some form of isolation, to spend one's girlhood during the 1950s and not notice that there were some 'doors closed' to women."

Perhaps it's because, for some reason, when we pictured the woman who would settle up our gender once and for all, we didn't picture Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps we pictured someone more like ourselves, someone who didn't appear to put on femininity by donning a power suit.

But if she's elected, will some women raise their glasses to her on election night, saying thank you, Hillary, for liberating our sex?

Probably. Though it's doubtful they'd have been cheering her all along.

Reach columnist Blythe Lawrence at opinion@thedaily.washington.edu

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