The 2016 election: I am disappointed, to say the least.
On the eve of the election, Highpoint reporters attended a conference at the Boston Globe about women in the media. The speakers included female writers for the Globe and organizers of the Massachusetts Conference of Women, and all of them spoke of the small, but steady, progress they have seen and contributed to throughout their working lives. The room was filled with young, mostly female, student reporters from high schools in the area, and we were full of hope. We were well aware that a female president would not immediately end the pervasive gender inequality that so many have experienced in the U.S., just as having an African American president did not eliminate the country’s continued problems with racism, but we were hopeful. We wanted a new narrative. We were ready to see change. I was prepared to write an article about how this unusual but historic election has opened so many doors for women. And I am disappointed.
In a way, this election embodies the struggle for gender equality; we took two huge steps forward in even getting a female candidate so close to success, and then a devastating step back as Hillary Clinton could not claim complete victory. Had her opponent been more respectful, this outcome would have been more tolerable, but she lost to someone who has made openly sexist remarks, among countless other racist, ableist, and xenophobic insults, throughout his campaign, and still managed to retain support.
Of course, it is important to acknowledge that gender was only one facet of this election, and that many, many other aspects played vital roles in determining the outcome. This was a window of opportunity that, I believe, history will not look back on kindly. Victoria Woodhull in 1872 and Belva Lockwood in 1884 are the only other women to ever run for president of the U.S., and they were unable to gain the support of the major parties. I believe that Clinton was one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for president, and she has come further than any other woman to winning the presidency. It will likely take several more election cycles for a woman as dedicated as her to pick up where she left off. When I saw all the young journalists last week who are determined to fight sexism in the media, it brought me hope that with the next generation, women will be able to progress in society and in the workplace.