Yesterday afternoon, I heard this story about the New Hampshire primary on NPR's All Things Considered.
What struck me was not Obama's humor but Clinton's personal response. The amazing thing about radio is that people are left only to their audible voices - there isn't as much to distract the listener. I find I actually think about the news when I listen to NPR, I soak it in rather than just consuming it. And when I heard Hillary respond in such a seeming genuine way, I thought, "She really believes in this. She really believes in what she's doing."
Either she is genuine and truly believes what she expressed, or she's a damn good actor. I know a lot of people who would believe the latter, and no matter how she comes across, they cannot believe her to be genuine in anything she says.
But why am I so surprised and, strangely, touched by her genuine, human response? Did I need her to become human?
Why is it that she, as a woman, needs a more feminine touch? And is that related to why so many people, especially ardent conservatives who hold strong gender biases, hate her so much?
Is America ready for a woman as president?
First, the easy part. Yes, I think conservatives hate her because she's a woman. She's playing a man's game, and she's playing it very well. She's threatening, she could win. They claim they don't hate her just because she's a woman, but because she's a conniving politician who's only interested in power.
If that's the case, why does she elicit so much hate when male politicians have been doing the same thing for the entirity of this country's history? Because good politicians have to embody stereotypical male dominance, and a lot of people, especially in conservative circles, don't want a bitch (read - a woman with dominance) running their country. We have not come nearly as far as I thought.
However, I believe what she is doing is incredibly significant. As a girl, I always wanted to see a woman as president, but by the time I was in high school, I had nearly given up on the notion. Once in college, I though it would never happen in my lifetime.
But here she is, with the good and the bad, doing well despite the Iowa set back. She has a chance, a strong one, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that excited me. I can't hate her, even if I disagree with her (and to an extent, I'm not sure how much I disagree with her).
But being back in Georgia made me realize that there are a lot of minds that won't change, and a lot of people who don't believe her when she's being human. That's why the sound byte is significant: She convinced me for the first time because she was displaying feminine characteristics of vulnerability and sensitivity. I want a leader who admits his or her feelings from time-to-time. Politics needs to embrace the feminine, and maybe this country could actually get better if it were less about dominance and more about the greater good.
Still, I have to wonder why am I so relieved that Hillary finally became feminine. Why is it that I need her to be more "like a woman"? This is the not-so-easy part. It somehow legitimizes her candidacy, and I realize I have been swayed by the Stop Her Now rhetoric. I have been supporting Obama because I thought he'd be less hated and more likely to win. I knew the Hillary haters would never be won over, and now more than ever, I believe that's because she's the type of woman that she is. It has nothing to do with her politics.
Her expression of emotion, concern, and vulnerability have re-painted her as a candidate for me. I'm sorry to admit that's what it took, but at the same time, I believe her. I believe that she wants to make this country a better place and ensure the opportunities America promises are available to as many people as possible - male or female. She embodies that possibility, even if she isn't as soft around the edges as people would like.
I don't think she'd do a bad job, either. She can't do any worse than our current president, right?