I’m not a hard-core feminist. Actually, I’m not really a feminist at all. I grew up in a society that was heavily matriarchal at its core, where women were the family’s decision makers, the power holders, in a country where most men where either alcoholics or stagnant, at least as far as I can remember. That’s what the system permitted. There was no such thing as the women’s rights movement in the Soviet Union. There were other problems to tend to.
My grandmother has probably never voted. But she has a university degree, a job she stayed at for decades, she loves clothes and make up, and is constantly obsessed with what she looks like. At 82, she puts on more mascara a day than I do in a year.
I remember riding the subway with her, I couldn’t have been older than 10.
“Don’t sit like that, keep your knees knocked together, you’re a lady.” My clothes always needed to be feminine, my weight is always an issue. And find yourself a man who respects you and whose shoulder you can lean on in more ways than one. Respect your husband and tend to his needs. You don’t want him to stray. “But keep thinking about what you will do with your life. I imagine you will want to be a doctor, a lawyer, something that will keep you independent, don’t forget that you must always strive for independence. And try to live in America.” I never questioned how these two extremes coexisted without driving her insane.
I grew up to be a woman who keeps her knees together while sitting when needed. And after a myriad of failed, wrong relationships, I knew enough to marry a man for so much more than a financially promising future. And I did not become a doctor or a lawyer because none of this ever mattered to me. And I don’t wish it had, in retrospect. And though I love to look pretty, I don’t obsess about it when circumstances don’t permit me to.
I’m human. I’m a woman. Sometimes, I’m doing the best I can, other times, I’m doing just enough to survive. And forever, will I believe in what I do.
Hillary Clinton is a woman. She’s been doing the best she can in a world far more complicated than mine. With millions of glares on her every move, and a lot more people to answer to than my grandmother. She survived being a First Lady, she’s dealt with a White House affair, she survived bashing as the Secretary of State, she survived political scandals, she raised a child, and went through as much as any other woman has. I don’t care about politics, I don’t care about how much money she has, I don’t care about Bill, I don’t care about Bernie. What I I care about is that against all odds, the cracked glass ceiling of eight years ago has come crashing down in a rain of brilliant glitter. History has been altered forever. It made me giddy with pride, because her victory belongs to all of us, and to all those that came before us. It made this 40-something housewife cry at 7am over my son’s school lunch, and it made me want to call my grandmother and tell her that, today, America is place I want to be. I can’t help but wonder what Hillary’s grandmother would have to say.