I don’t care what your political persuasion is. I don’t care who you are voting for in this election. And I would certainly never suggest that any single issue, demographic or otherwise, is enough to constitute a vote for a particular candidate. But last night was important.
As a daughter, a mother, a woman — last night matters.
I am a Millenial. My generation has grown up in a multicultural, seemingly post-patriarchal society. We have watched as women of all creeds and colors reached extraordinary heights: in athletics, in business, and even in the political arena. Of course, we have also watched as women continue to earn less than their male counterparts and face sexism in the workplace with alarming regularity. This is not new to us. We know our history. We are aware of the continued need for change and activism. But we’ve also anticipated this moment. And, yes, we have taken it for granted.
It’s not shocking to us that a woman has been nominated as the presidential candidate for a major political party. Many of us never thought twice about this moment because, for us, it never felt that far out of reach.
But it affects us. Undeniably. And, more importantly, it affects our daughters.
When I was in 5th grade, my class did a group project coinciding with the ’96 presidential election in which we were to create a candidate and present him to the class. My quiet, generally reserved self, took charge for perhaps the first time in my young life. Something about the assignment energized me and I quickly assumed a leadership position. Our ‘he’ was a ‘she’ and her name was Molly B. Glad. Don’t judge – just laugh with me.
I don’t recall thinking it was abnormal for our candidate to be a woman. We didn’t feel as though we were doing anything profound. My group mates and I simply felt compelled to create a fictitious candidate who represented us, who looked like us. It is the same reason why this photo of a young black boy touching President Obama’s hair has so deeply resonated with people throughout the country. Seeing someone in a position of power reflecting you and your identity is incredibly validating and motivating. It means that nothing is out of reach, that no circumstance of your birth can prevent you from accomplishing your greatest ambitions.
And that’s why last night matters.
Because where the concept of a female presidential nominee was once a vague hope, it is now a visible reality. And nothing will ever change that.
For my generation, the glass ceiling was less a reality in need of breaking and more a non-entity. We simply never felt its presence in the palpable, menacing way that our mothers and grandmothers did. And that is a testament to their own hard work because those preceding generations paved the road, however rocky, for this moment to arrive.
During the course of that group project 20 years ago, I vividly remember declaring that I wanted to be president someday. I said it proudly and with conviction. I would be president. I would make a difference.
Well, I did not become president. What I did was become a school teacher, a wife, and a mother — all things for which I am just as proud and grateful. And while public office was not to play a role in my future, I have never lost the conviction that anyone can make a difference in the world.
And, perhaps, that is the tale of my generation. We were told we could be anything we wanted to be. We were filled with the greatest of intentions and the loftiest of goals. We were inspired… but we were not empowered.
And that is why last night matters.
Empowerment thrives on visibility. Show a girl a successful woman and you have set her on the track toward a brilliant future. We’re finally there, on the biggest stage in the world; and, as of last night, millions of little girls were given the gift of a new future. Because that glass ceiling, the one I was privileged enough to have been able to ignore for most of my life – it’s been shattered. And now the next generation of girls will have the even greater privilege of growing up free of its shadow.
Last night was monumental. As my own little girl drifted off to sleep in her bed, the course of history shifted. And when she awoke this morning, it was to a world full of possibility. She will grow up being told, like me, that a woman can be anything she wants to be. But she, she will believe it. She will feel it. She will have seen it. And my sincerest hope is that she will achieve it.
Because, as of last night, anything is possible.
**C also writes for POMP USA, a start up company promoting businesses owned by service members, veterans, and their spouses.