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Hillary Clinton and gender equality

Votes for women!

Driving home from dinner last night, the topic turned to government (as it tends to do with 5 and 4 year olds, right?!). It was a complicated discussion about good laws vs bad laws and the ability to change unfair rules if everyone works together. My son was fascinated by the idea that the Constitution can be altered. His class has been studying Abraham Lincoln for Presidents Day so he's familiar with the Civil War, slavery, and saving the Union...all are topics which blow my mind that a kindergarten student knows them. I'm kinda of a proud papa. So the chat naturally turned to our history of trying to make things more fair for everyone. We talked about how the Constitution has been changed a very small number of times. Eliminating slavery. Giving former slaves citizenship and the right to vote. Letting "girls" vote. Giving 18 year olds the vote. (That unfortunate attempt to ban wine/beer--which the kids know mommy and daddy love.) And we even managed to meander into current topics like the classmate with two dads and how some people used to not think that was ok.

Having a very political father, both kids are aware we have an election coming up. Being the current President from IL, Barack Obama features prominently in any discussion about the office. They know he's leaving because he has to...we talked term limits and running for re-election. And they know that the country must pick somebody to replace him.

My son said from the backseat, "I'm voting for the boy!"

To which my daughter shouted, "I'm voting for the girl!"

The problem in a nutshell and from the mouths of babes, eh? I've talked to them before about the huge historical moment approaching. How we've never had a woman President before and Barack Obama was the first black President. I try to make it very clear that either one of them has every right to grow up aspiring to lead the country. So, last night, I shifted instead to what a big, difficult job the President has. They listened as I rattled off details about secret codes, body guards, being in charge of the army, the schools, farms, the national parks...the advisers you have from every department about money and paving roads and making sure airplanes don't fall out of the sky. When you put it that way, even as an adult it becomes an overwhelming idea that we give all those burdens to one person (with help).

But we all know that only one of my kids can look back through history and see people like them sitting in the Oval Office. The boy. No matter how much we sit and claim that we're open-minded and ok with girls being "equal" we've yet to follow through. It seems inevitable that we'll have one someday. Which is, I think, what's driving younger people to blow off Hillary Clinton's candidacy. Why vote for a woman now when it's highly probable we'll get one anyway down the road? Idealism is fine at the expense of gender equality because they didn't live through the suffering and hard work of previous generations.

As a feminist dad who is in a gender role-reversed daily struggle with stereotypes, assumptions, and fighting to be seen as equal in caregiving, I fully realize the importance of simply getting the image out there. That's one of the reasons Stay At Home Dads are so visible is we want to lead by example. And who sits in the Oval Office is no different.  I want a woman in the White House for the same reasons.

When we have a highly qualified woman with a good chance of winning, we need to support her and elect her. And it's not just Hillary Clinton. As I said on Twitter this morning, it's women down the ballot. It's women in the board room. Women in the military. Women in space. Women in sports. As a Democrat, we need to commit ourselves to diversity and supporting women and minorities from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to the local library trustees.

I sit on a volunteer commission that is 7 members...all of whom are white and male. Because women don't care about transportation? They're unable to attend a monthly meeting? It makes me very uneasy how much men dominate transportation planning. Bicycling. Etc.

It's the 21st century and it's very easy for us to downplay a woman on the ballot. We're all above including "penis" or "vagina" in our list of qualifications...but not really. If we REALLY were above all that as a culture you'd also see viable women on the Republican side. You'd see more men staying home with the kids.

And we sure as hell wouldn't be having this silly, disgusting debate within our own progressive party where people think voting for yet another old white guy who's been in Congress since the 1990's isn't at all institutionally sexist.

Are you, personally, sexist to vote for Bernie Sanders? Of course not. But when I walk into the voting booth with my daughter along, there's only one candidate on either side where I can turn to my daughter and say, "look--one day you can do it, too." That's why I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. Every little girl in this nation will see the photos and video of Inauguration Day and maybe...just maybe...carry themselves a little differently knowing that somebody like them was chosen to lead.

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