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We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

I’m probably dating myself by referencing that antique, fairly offensive Virginia Slims tagline that encouraging women to embrace feminist progress by flaunting a florally decorated brand of cigarettes. Now it comes across as hideously dated, but in the 1960s, the idea that women could do anything that men could, including poisoning themselves with nicotine, was both novel and incredibly exciting.  When I was around eight years old, I remember struggling with whether I would prefer to be a world famous concert pianist or the first female president. I was clearly thinking small.

I got a taste of politics as a college intern in Washington (although no one made a pass at me except for a bartender with bad breath), and learned fairly quickly that I didn’t have a thick enough skin to survive in that arena.  But I always wondered whether I’d get to see someone else achieve that “first female president” goal.

Like all good starving artists, I was working as a waitress in New York when Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as the first female member of a major party presidential ticket, and all of us called our mothers in a collective burst of feminist solidarity.   So by 2008, I was ready for some more groundbreaking. I was excited for Hillary Clinton to be even a viable candidate, and thrilled that I resembled Sarah Palin enough to come in second in a lookalike contest.

But now it’s looking like Mrs. Clinton isn’t just a possibility, she’s already assumed to be the de facto nominee for 2016 (if she chooses to run; the suspense over that choice has been as gripping as any of the soap operas that have gone off the air). It’s fascinating to see how people react. If nothing else, she has proven that she definitely has the resilience, thick skin, and quick reflexes to rebound from whatever gets thrown at her, from insults to conspiracy theories to random shoes (to insulting conspiracy theories about how she was somehow behind that shoe throwing…).

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