Gender and Sexuality Column

In time of presidential panic, Hillary Clinton’s fight cannot be forgotten

We cannot revert.

A week in “Donald Trump’s America” and the country’s unity is crumbling at our feet. Part of the nation is either mourning or revolting, but this is not the approach that should be taken. This election should not break the nation’s pride in freedom — and that starts with echoing the legacy of Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is a well-qualified politician and the first woman presidential candidate that could have been the president for all. But in classic American fashion, she was unfairly tossed around in a cynical, selfish, patriarchal system. And while there is not a driven woman crusader as president-elect and many minorities do not currently have a leader they can trust, Clinton’s message of equality when the odds were stacked against her cannot be forgotten.

As a history professor specializing in U.S. women, sexuality and social movements at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Carol Faulkner agreed.

“Women’s lives have changed dramatically over the last 40 to 50 years, but we are still so far from including all women in American public life,” said Faulkner in an email. “The presidency is just one political position, but it is a powerful symbol.”

Given Clinton’s loss, now, more than ever, is the best time to get involved. Sadly, Clinton will likely not run again, but we cannot forget the progress she made. Not only did she represent women, but she was a woman of the masses — even for those who did not support her. As for Americans using Trump’s victory as fuel for the future, Faulkner said she is hopeful.

There have been several calls to action since the election result was announced. Elle magazine published an article, “Don’t Cry. Organize,” which outlined Hillary’s dedication to feminism over the past 25 years. One line in the article sticks out: “A movement that has been focused on Hillary as the brightest hope for the feminist apotheosis of a first female president must now regroup and refocus.”

Likewise, activist groups have formed. 100 Women of Color came together to send a message to the world: Rebuilding the nation starts now. Teresa Younger, CEO of Ms. Foundation, and Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, vowed to organize the next 100 hours and first 100 days to rally for women of color to engage in leadership positions and end racial violence in America.

The organization wrote in an open letter published on our100.org with a message of change: Black lives, women, immigrants, LGBTQ community, people with disabilities and working people of every race, region and ethnicity will be affected.

“We know that the future and well-being of this country depends on the health and well-being of all women,” the letter read.

Margaret Thompson, a Syracuse University associate professor of history and political science specializing in women’s history, does not relieve Clinton of some mistakes she made throughout her campaign. Still, she recognizes that Clinton has been viewed through a gendered lens and that this is another obstacle facing young women looking to get involved in politics.

“She was judged on a different set of standards and that’s an issue women face generally and she faced it on this (political) context and I find that troubling,” Thompson said. “It’s frustrating, obviously, as a professional woman who teaches young women who wants to tell my students and encourage them to pursue their dreams. I think this is very frustrating to see that these double standards do exist.”

Like Faulkner, Thompson underscored the importance of getting involved.

“I think it is important that young women realize that while a lot of things have gotten better since I was your age, a lot of things are still problem and there is a lot of things for your generation to do now and in the future,” Thompson said.

As seen in the message of Faulkner, Thompson and Clinton herself, this is not a time to panic and lose our feminist heads. We need to spread a message of equality and human morality. Love will always trump hate, as long as there are people fighting for all of our rights.

People need to unite and show Trump the great nation he has to represent, not drastically alter. For as long as there is opposition and a demand for human equality for all, then Hillary’s campaign will live beyond her run for the presidency. It lives on in daily routines and ways of life. Her message inspired a group of Americans that has known struggle and overcome it.

In this way, while Hillary may have “lost,” her message wins. Unity is crucial. Clinton isn’t going anywhere. The people who support her and mourn her loss aren’t going anywhere. We are here and we will continue to stand up for what we believe in. We cannot let this election extinguish the fire that sparked Clinton’s revolution in the first place.

Myelle Lansat is a junior magazine journalism major and policy studies minor. She can be reached at malansat@syr.edu.

Comments

Top Stories