I’m going to start off by saying I have never really been into politics. I have registered to vote, and participated in the polls, but have never truly felt strongly about what and who I was selecting, for the most part. Admittedly, I would call my dad and ask him who he is voting for, and would just follow suit. However, this past week I did have an interest in sitting down and watching the first presidential debate with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Even while listening to each of their perspectives, plans, and policies, I couldn’t help but focus on something completely different than the actual debate. And, that is how in awe I am of Clinton, and her courage.
Let me elaborate. I am a woman. I have grown up in a male-dominated society where the leaders of the pack have been men. To be specific, men have led in presidency roles, CEOs of the largest companies, superintendents of schools, and, most familiar to me… in sports. I like to think of myself as a confident, educated, and competent leader in my speciality, but even so, I have felt limited in roles I have aspired to reach. When applying for college soccer coaching positions back in 2007, the assistant job opened up on the men’s side at my alma mater, Michigan State University. I jokingly told the head coach I was going to apply. But, a part of me was wishing it didn’t need to be a joke. I was as qualified in my licensure and felt as capable as other candidates applying for the same position. But, there was one thing separating me from the others: I was a woman applying to coach men.
Just last month, professional hockey named its first female coach. The Arizona Coyotes hired Dawn Braid as the team’s skating coach. Becky Hammon (San Antonio Spurs) and Nancy Lieberman (Sacramento Kings) are the only female assistant coaches in the NBA. And, Jen Welter became the NFL’s first female position coach last summer. She worked as an intern for the Arizona Cardinals while coaching linebackers. These are major milestones in sports, and just the beginning of what could be great moves by these organizations. However, there still lies the unspoken lack of respect men display and feel toward women at that high level. It’s just reality.
It is a reality that the pressure women feel to appear a certain way is far greater than that of men. We are judged, scrutinized, and sometimes even disregarded if we are overweight, unprofessional, or deemed as “unattractive.” This is exactly the reason women are at a much greater risk of developing eating disorders than men. And, I did. Because, I attempted to conform the society’s ideals, and it led me down a dark, unhealthy path. I strived to look a certain way that would allow me to be successful in life, school, and sport. Men don’t nearly feel that pressure that most women do.
Therefore, when I watched Hillary Clinton stand on the BIGGEST stage in politics, as a candidate for the next presidency, I couldn’t help but smile. She’s not just leading a school district, or a large company, or even a sports team. She is leading an entire nation comprised of both men and women, the most successful, the most educated, and the most famous. She is standing at the top, holding her own, and presenting the most professional presence that a woman has done yet. She is doing far more for our country than helping its economy, increasing jobs, and putting an end to war. She is setting a new standard in the lives of each and every girl, woman, and female out there. She is providing hope and inspiration for a less sexist society. Her example is beyond admirable, and if I am inspired by her abilities to stand up in that role and lead with grace, intelligence, and composure, then everyone else must be too.
Even though I am not that interested in the presidential campaign, I do enjoy following it because of those reasons. It is amazing to watch a woman step onto that stage, embrace it, and shine. Our society has not set that piece up for her to be easy, simple, or even possible. But, she has done it. And, no other woman has yet to do what she is doing, and for that, I thank her. Because there is only good that can come from it in our country. Women have a ton to offer. We just need to get past the gender differences, and select someone based on their abilities. If we do this, the United States of America will continue to be greatest place in the world.