The Woman Card We’ve Been Dealt

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”
― Margaret Atwood

Still processing my thoughts, and I’m trying to stay classy about it but the honest to god first thought I had the morning after was, “Wow. America really doesn’t like women.” Do I mean everyone? Of course not. Do I mean explicitly? No. Next to no one in this country is running through the streets with “Down with women!” signs or stroking cats evilly in a dark room somewhere, contemplating wrapping us in burkas.

I mean that as a culture, women are often instinctively reacted to as unworthy of being believed, supported, or followed. From rape survivors and wage equality to work leadership and our own health and care, we are not considered trustworthy in making decisions, telling truths, or seeking advancement. Suspicion and wariness are often the default. Our narratives are questioned before they are listened to much less believed.


I did not vote for Secretary Clinton because she is a woman, though goodness knows I found the idea of the first female president breathtaking. I don’t think most people who voted against her did so because she is a woman. But I do think the culture and undercurrents about and towards women played a significant role in how she was perceived and treated by media, her opponents, and a lot of the electorate.

As women, almost every day, we see examples and stories of how our ambitions are threatening and (worse!) unattractive, our stories of victimization are suspect, those of us needing help are lazy or manipulative or moochers, our desires for control over our bodies are antagonistic or selfish, our expectations of work life balance are unreasonable, our emotions are unstable. We are not trusted. And I cannot help but see much of this inherent distrust in how Secretary Clinton was viewed and treated in this election. Her ambitions were unseemly, her cautiousness weak, her outspokenness offensive, her experience invalid, her whole candidacy insufficient and suspect.

Am I partisan? Yes. I have seen examples of sexism throughout my personal and professional life, and in the lives of women and girls I know and respect. These experiences of course inform my point of view and my politics.

But I don’t necessarily think that means I’m wrong.

*This post expanded on comments left on a Broadside post

6 thoughts on “The Woman Card We’ve Been Dealt”

  1. You’re two for two this week on writing posts that perfectly put words to feelings I haven’t even begun to be able to unpack.

  2. So many of us were hopeful to see a woman as President, and all the social/policy changes that might, possibly, have helped nudge — even with (as usual) Republicans dominating the House and Senate. We wept through her concession speech.

    A few are saying (and I see it) that HRC dodged a bullet (and, quite possibly a literal one) by not winning the job. DJT has ZERO attention span. He cannot tolerate any form of criticism or “losing” — and has 4 years of negotiation on very very very tough issues with world leaders. It will drive him out of what he calls his mind.

    1. That’s why I’m not afraid of him. Jeff and I were speculating whether or not he even sticks it out for four years when the gloss turns into insanely hard work that requires focus, thick skin, and discretion.

      I’m ten times more afraid of the people he is looking at putting into power around him who will likely do most of the heavy lifting. Terrifying…

      1. Exactly. It’s a shitshow of all the men and women we’ve dismissed and laughed at for years — now determined to set the clock back on healthcare, women’s rights, civil rights, environment. It is not amusing to wake up in a dystopian novel.

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