Rebel Girls Reading List: 16 Things Hillary Clinton Meant

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Header by Rory Midhani

Header by Rory Midhani

Hillary Clinton is not the President of the United States.

I did not expect to write that down right there, I swear. This post was originally intended as a reflection on what it meant to elect a woman president, what some women from different communities and backgrounds saw in her or saw of themselves in her, what her policies could allow us to envision, who we were before and after she showed us a woman could really do this.

Hillary Clinton is not the President of the United States.

This post is now a eulogy. For something. I don’t know, maybe the dream I had for — what was it — 10 years now. Maybe my mother and my grandmother and your daughter and your sister. Maybe the girls who were gonna grow up seeing themselves there in the White House, ordinary as anything, completely free to dream, to swing their legs and think I could be President, I could run the country, I could stand on that stage and say yes. Maybe, honestly, a eulogy for the hope. That feeling of near certainty, we got this, do you think we’re gonna be okay, I do, I think we got this. On Monday night I felt like I might wake up to anything, a new day, something different, I really did, I feel naive, I’m sad, and I’m scared and I’m mad and I’m sad and I’m scared and I’m mad. That feeling that maybe we would finally move the goalposts, have a president who fought some of our battles, finally get the next move on the chessboard and swing hard on the way down.

Hillary Clinton is not President of the United States.

But this is what she meant.

But this is what she meant.

We knew it.

We felt it.

Hillary Clinton is not President of the United States.

But for a minute, we thought she just might be.

Why Hillary Clinton Thrills the Hell Out of Me by America Ferrera

So, yeah, I would totes be Hillary’s BFF. Maybe that’s because I have come to see with my own eyes, through various humanitarian efforts, that women are underrepresented, disadvantaged and exploited globally — from the halls of power to the back alleys of red light districts to the trafficking rings in which women are murdered, raped and traded as if they were objects rather than human beings. Before “Girl Power” was a hashtag, Hillary fought the unpopular fight and defended women here at home and around the world. She dared to demand that women’s rights be seen as human rights. And she traveled the world as Secretary of State insisting that world leaders include women in their countries’ economic and security plans. That thrills and inspires the hell out of me.

Hillary Clinton Is the Most Qualified Candidate, but the Fact That She’s a Woman Matters Too by Brittney Cooper

I can vote for Hillary and express desire to see a woman lead, without throwing on my cape for the empire. But I also won’t throw on my cape for any brand of progressivism that skips over sexism in its wake. We are no more postfeminist than we are postracial. Racism and capitalism are not more pressing to me than the problem of patriarchy. As a black woman who grew up working-class, I don’t get to leave any issue on the table. They are all urgent as fuck…

It has taken nearly 170 years for the liberal feminist project to have a woman as major party presidential candidate. This is telling. So for those of us who are radical feminists, those of us who want to see the total transformation of oppressive social structures, this is a reminder that if it has taken this long for the liberal feminist project to reach such a milestone, our radical feminist dreams will take longer. But it is also a reminder that if feminist movements can’t even elect a woman president, then we haven’t moved the needle nearly enough on patriarchy

Those feminists who act like this is possible are not being honest about what the structural transformation of systems looks like.

To me, it looks, in part, like electing a woman president.

I Want This For Hillary / I Want This For All Of Us by Carmen Rios (Yeah, That’s Me)

I never want Hillary Clinton to smile graciously in the face of defeat again. I want her to rise. I want her to overcome. I want her to win, and I want her to rub it in our faces even though she never will. I want her to talk to God. I want her to cut the ribbon when they put her pantsuit up in that museum. I want her to prove my mother wrong. I want that fire in my chest to burn even brighter. I want it this time to be lit not with the need to prove everyone wrong, but instead with the righteous indignation of all the women who finally have.

An Introvert Goes Canvassing for Hillary Clinton by Carrie Wade

Maybe I’m not the best candidate to talk politics with strangers. But I couldn’t shake the feeling — the knowledge, really — that I’d copped out. Bailing on our first female President, of all people, because you’re scared? Nah, girl. I called the guy back, told him I could make it after all, held myself accountable on social media, and freaked out for ten minutes. But it was on. I was going.

An All-Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backlash Against Hillary Clinton by Courtney Enlow


Love trumps hate, or why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton by Edith Windsor

Growing up as a young girl after the Depression, I never dreamed that the LGBT community would be where we are today. It’s been the joy of a lifetime to see the world change for the better for LGBT Americans before my very eyes.

But even though I’m not so young anymore, I’m not willing to stop fighting. I don’t want a single LGBT young person to have to face the stigma, isolation and internalized homophobia that so many of us had to deal with. This Pride month, let’s commit to making sure every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young person can grow up in a country where they can not only marry the love of their life, but go to school, work, and live free from fear and discrimination.

Hillary is the president who will fight to get us there. Because she knows what I know: Love trumps hate, the United States Constitution endures and justice will ultimately prevail.

Hillary Clinton: The Leader You Want When The World Ends by Eileen Myles

I trust her. I don’t think Hillary has horns though she does have a vagina and wouldn’t you want it sitting on the chair in the Oval Office (not to get all weird) because things will never be the same. She will see something no woman in America has ever seen before and then all of us will see it. She’s like our astronaut. That’s what I want that at the end of this world or the end of this race the end of this joke: America. It’s why I ran (against her husband) in 1992. I wanted my vagina on that chair. Now I want Hillary’s there. I want to look back on my time. Even from right here.

What My Mother Sees in Hillary by Elizabeth Word Gutting

Recently my mom and I were talking on the phone, and I asked her how she was feeling about the election.

“I always feel good about Hillary,” she replied.

For the first time in her life, my mom sees someone who can directly relate to her own experiences in a strong position to become president. Mrs. Clinton has led so many charges during her political career that have supported women, including fighting relentlessly for reproductive rights and speaking up for women and girls worldwide when she was secretary of state.

I Am Voting With My Vagina: Hillary Clinton For President by Kate Harding

There has never been a president who knows what it’s like to menstruate, be pregnant, or give birth. There has never been a president who knows what it’s like to be the target of subtle and categorically unsubtle sexism. There has never been a president who was criticized widely for his political ambition, or forced into a bake-off to prove he’s not too career-oriented to cook for his family. There has never been a president who was forced to take his spouse’s last name for appearances’ sake. There has never been a president criticized for showing too much cleavage, or having “cankles,” or wearing unflattering headbands or colorful pantsuits. There has never been a president who was presumed to be mentally and emotionally unstable because of naturally occurring hormones.

Until 2009, there had never been a president who had to work twice as hard to be seen as half as competent, and it’s been a welcome change.

There are other reasons why I’m ready for Hillary, but even if there weren’t, I would probably still vote for her just because she’s a woman (who belongs to the party I find less odious). And I submit to you that for me, a person who has never been fully represented by an American president in terms of policy or gender, that is a damned solid reason. What’s illogical and ill-considered is not my “vagina vote,” but the ludicrous notion that 226 years of male rule have somehow left us in a position where gender is immaterial.

Not Just Any Woman: I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton, and It’s Personal by Laura Donney

The other week I was at a barty (that’s a party at a bar for all you purists out there), and, as part of my therapy homework, I went up to these two men and was like hello guys! and tried to let my blazer and top-knot bun do the rest of the talking. Turns out they were there for the same barty I was, and eventually we got to talking politics, because I’m really fun. That’s when one of the guys revealed he was voting for Bernie and said a phrase I’m familiar with by now: I just don’t understand why anyone would want her. (Her being Hillary, of course.)

In response, I made a noise in my throat (think Marge Simpson) and got into a cab.

I’m a 24-year-old feminist who is loudly supporting Hillary Clinton for President, and because of it I’ve been making that same sound in my throat a lot.

It’s a sound cluttered by years of loving Hillary. It’s a sound cluttered by years of defending her. It’s a sound that tugs gently at my high-school rejection of feminism and applauds my current devotion to that very same movement.

Dear Bernie Bullies, I’m So Over You by Connie Schultz

When I was 11 years old, my dad told me a little girl could grow up to be president. Forty-eight years later, I believe him.

I’m FOR Hillary by Ginger McKnight-Chavers

At this point in my life, I understand and share her experience as a smart girl, a supportive spouse, a friend, a professional, a parent, a person who has lost parents. I see her comforting and listening to the Mothers of the Movement rather than shouting talking points from a podium. I listen to the Mayor of Flint describe how Hillary was not only the only candidate who called her, but that she followed up with action. I watched her interact with passionate young people from Black Lives Matter who disagreed with her in a way I now recognize as the mother of a teenager who may feel that I can’t always relate, whether or not it’s true.

I relate to Hillary. And I feel she relates to me.

I’m Asian American And My Voice Counts In This Election by Giselle Cheung

I’ve watched the 2016 presidential election; I’ve read about how “unrelatable” Hillary Clinton is.

To me, Hillary is more relatable than any other candidate I’ve ever watched earn a major party presidential nomination. This election has been a public validation of everything my peers and I have experienced since starting our careers. Hillary has quietly, consistently, and effectively achieved more in her field than any of her opponents. Two former US presidents call her more qualified than they are. To watch her fight for a seat at a table with an opponent who is not prepared to be there is cathartic. She has let her actions speak for people who felt they didn’t have a voice, and in doing so, she’s paved the way for those people to speak up for themselves.

She’s also why I recently shared some of my own experiences with discrimination as an Asian American woman.

INDOMITABLE: The Girl from Park Ridge Who Became Hillary Clinton by Melissa McEwan

There are people who say that Hillary is courageous to keep going, despite the enormity of what she faces. But courage is doing something tough you don’t have to do, and doing it anyway. Hillary does not have the luxury of that choice. To get the job where she can have unique influence to effect the change she wants to see, she has to run this gauntlet of petty debasements, character attacks, mischaracterizations, dog whistles, and unfiltered sexism. There is no choice. There is only facing it, every day.

That is not to say she lacks courage. It is only to say that what she’s doing requires more than courage. It requires a fearsome tenacity to keep going, because there is no choice to avoid the horrors that await women who reach for more, except for quitting.

Likable by Sady Doyle

My apparent new career as Hillary Clinton’s self-appointed Anger Translator is a weird choice, maybe even a self-destructive choice, but honestly, ask yourself: How long would you make it, if people treated you the way you treat Hillary Clinton? Would you not just be furious, by now? Would you not have reached levels of blood-vessel popping, shit-losing rage, or despair? Because the fact that she’s dealt with it at all, and kept her shit together, is admirable. The fact that she’s been dealing with it for decades, and keeps voluntarily subjecting herself to it, and, knowing exactly how bad it will get, and exactly what we’ll do to her, is running for President again, and (here’s the part I love, the part that I find hard to even wrap my head around) actually winning? To me, that is awe-inspiring.

And her story moves me, on that level, simply as an example of a woman who got every misogynist trick in the world thrown at her, and who didn’t let it slow her down. On that level, she’s actually become a bit of a personal role model: When people yell at me, or dislike me, I no longer think oh, how horrible this is for me. I now think, well, if Hillary can do it. Seriously. If Hillary Clinton can be called an evil hag by major media outlets for most of her adult life and run for President, I can deal with blocking ten or twenty guys on Twitter. She’s dealt with more shit than I have. She’s still going. I really have no excuse not to do the same.

But she shouldn’t have to deal with it. This is all the byproduct of a misogynist culture. If you can cut through those expectations, or change them, a different woman – potentially a very different candidate – would emerge on the other side. So saying nice things about Hillary Clinton, for me, isn’t just something I do because I feel good about her. It’s not even something I do to piss people off. It’s a way to shift cultural dialogue, to allow for a world where women aren’t suffocated or crushed by our expectations of them – a world where Hillary, and every future female President or Presidential candidate, can focus on the task at hand, and not have to climb over a barbed-wire fence of hatred in order to change the world.

Voting with My Head and Heart by Roxane Gay

Hillary Clinton does not come without baggage, though I must confess, I cannot bring myself to give one single damn about the emails. As a woman, as a human being, I find some of Mrs. Clinton’s decisions unacceptable — her vote for the war in Iraq; some of the rhetoric she used during the 1990s; her stance, for far too long, that marriage equality was best left to the states. She has made decisions that treated marginalized lives cavalierly. It is difficult to reconcile such decisions with everything I admire about Mrs. Clinton.

I also know that no one can spend a lifetime in politics and public service and emerge with clean hands or a clear conscience. This is what I tell myself so I can feel more comfortable with supporting her. I recognize the rationalization.

In truth, I am not overlooking anything. I see the whole of who Mrs. Clinton is and what she has done throughout her career. At their best, people are willing and able to grow, to change. Clinton is not the same woman she was twenty years ago, or ten years ago. Even during the primary, running against Bernie Sanders, she demonstrated an ability to move further left from many of her centrist positions. Mrs. Clinton, as she presents herself today, impresses me. I am choosing to believe she is at her best.

And to be president of the United States, of any country, means making many impossible decisions, many of which will cost people their lives. As president, I know Hillary Clinton will make more decisions that appall me or make me uncomfortable. There is no such thing as an ideal president who never has to make life or death decisions. I can only hope that as president, Mrs. Clinton will make those decisions with grace and compassion.

Rebel Girls is a column about women’s studies, the feminist movement, and the historical intersections of both of them. It’s kind of like taking a class, but better – because you don’t have to wear pants. To contact your professor privately, email carmen at autostraddle dot com. Ask questions about the lesson in the comments!

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for this. It is hard to read right now, and has the tears threatening to spill all over again, but I want to come back and read through them all when the disappointment and anger are less raw. When I can allow those feelings of hope to stir again for what this meant and what our charge is to do next time we have a chance.

  2. Thank you so much, Carmen. I have been waiting all day for something from you, because I know you would be able to put these feelings into words. And here you are. Thank you.

  3. “I am voting with my vagina.”

    I didn’t vote with my oppressive supermale superprivileged trans woman infinite-power-dick.

    I just mass exploited cis women, to the awe, envy and even despair of lesbros, until being an elected president would be an immeasurable degradation for me.

    Wait, did I crash a funeral? I just barely kinda skimmed a bit.

    • Green- it’s a response to Susan Sarandon justifying not voting for Hillary by saying she “wasn’t voting with her vagina.”

  4. I’m 18 and this is the first election I voted on. My mom, before the election, told me when she was 18 she voted a straight Democratic ticket and no one she voted for won and she was glad it would be different for me. Well, it turns out it’s not all that different.

    I’m scared for myself, as a trans person, and I’m scared for all the more vulnerable people in this nation, the POC, the immigrants, the people living in poverty, and everyone else. I think this election result will hurt all of us, but some more than others.

    I feel really heartbroken. I think in the future I might joke about my first heartbreak being the 2016 election, but right now I’m just too sad. I think I just need a day.

  5. I can’t read these right now because I have too many feelings but I appreciate this article anyway <3

  6. My vote for Hillary Clinton was considerably less enthused than that of many folks here, and still feeling gratitude for this collection of articles.

    Genuinely shocked at how sad I feel for her on a personal level – in terms of my personal politics, she didn’t have what I wanted but in terms of how our political system (typically) works she’s clearly eminently qualified in every way, especially when compared to the Republican candidate.

    And there are so many moving parts as to why and how this happened but in my bones I feel the itch of recognizing misogyny, internalized or not, manifesting itself through the general US electorate.

  7. Thank you. She has inspired me tremendously.

    Keep going. Keep speaking up in class. Keep participating in debates. Keep advocating for the rights of sexual assault survivors. Keep fighting for a culture of consent and gender equality.

    Stay classy and never. Give. Up.

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