By: Anna E. Domahidi
In the days since the election, I have lost and regained hope all over again.
On election day, I volunteered as a Democratic high school election judge in my home precinct. I spent the day greeting voters, helping them get their ballots, and silently wishing that I, too, could vote for the nation’s first female president. I can’t explain the feeling of seeing Hillary Clinton’s name on that ballot, but I guess you could describe the feeling as an overwhelming rush of joy. I was excited to finally shatter the glass ceiling that I see every time I look up.
When I got home and watched the election results come in, I began to lose hope in that image of a shattered glass ceiling. Had America truly woken up that morning and decided that voting for a misogynistic racist with no political experience was better than voting for the most qualified candidate in history? Apparently so.
What really struck me was the unfairness of it all. Secretary Clinton has dedicated herself to public service for many years and ran a much stronger campaign than her opponent, yet it didn’t seem to matter; and this is not the first time this has happened.
Every woman knows how it feels to not be taken as seriously as her male competitors simply because of her gender. Every woman knows how it feels to have to work twice as hard to be considered barely even once. Every woman knows how it feels to be told that she can’t do something just because of her gender. I am only sixteen, but I experience all of this every single day, at school and even at home.
As a teenage girl, the outcome of this election is especially discouraging because it essentially tells me that no matter how hard I work and no matter how hard I want something, it won’t matter in the end because some man that’s less qualified will always win.
A few days before the election, I was talking to a family member and I told him to “vote smart on Tuesday,” to which he replied “I won’t vote for that dishonest woman.” I hesitated and then asked if he preferred to vote for “that dishonest man instead,” and he quickly said “yes”. It was as if all of the rape allegations, all of the anti-immigrant sentiment, all of the racism, all of the bigotry, all of the dishonesty, and all of the hate was wiped away just because the other candidate was a “dishonest woman.” This highlights a huge problem plaguing not only the election, but our societies as well. It took an email “scandal” to destroy Secretary Clinton’s “trustworthiness,” but all of Trump’s crude remarks and turnarounds somehow did not.
One of the saddest parts of the past few days was Secretary Clinton’s message to young girls in her concession speech: “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” It is unbelievable that we need to be reminded of that.
Despite all of this pain, it’s important to remember that it’s not over. I am so proud thatSecretary Clinton got as close as she did to becoming president- that in itself is a huge thing. Even though her campaign is over, the message remains: we are stronger together. Secretary Clinton still won the popular vote, and that gives me immense hope. Let’s not allow this election to further divide us, but instead unite us. Let us not allow our differences to make us weak, but instead to make us strong.
I refuse to let the results of the election keep me quiet. Instead, I will shout louder for the rights of women. Instead, I will work harder to be taken seriously. I will do everything I put my mind to, and no one can tell me I can’t because I’m a woman.
The glass ceiling hasn’t been shattered just yet, but a crack has definitely been made.