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#ImWithHer, And I'm Going To Get Loud About It

#ImWithHer, And I’m Going To Get Loud About It

By Mir Kamin

I went to a debate viewing party last night, which is not the sort of thing I usually do. Usually we watch the debates at home, where my husband and occasionally one or both of my children absorb any running commentary which bursts forth from my mouth without judgment or surprise. I like it that way. But the invitation came, from folks we adore (and—full disclosure—who we knew were inviting only like-minded guests), and off we went.

We returned home late last night and climbed into bed with our Internet devices, comparing the aftermath on social media, exhausted but unwilling to let it all go and succumb to sleep. This morning I got up late and cranky, still unsettled from the night before.

Here’s where I come clean: I didn’t always vote. As a young adult, I didn’t take much interest in politics. More times than I am comfortable admitting, I felt that not voting was a more responsible choice than voting when I didn’t really know what was going on (and educating myself and exercising my civic duty didn’t seem important; please don’t judge me on my naïveté, as I can assure you I’m doing a fine job of that, in retrospect, already). As I got older, I voted in presidential elections, but still figured “people smarter than me” would handle local elections, as what good would I be in the booth when I didn’t even know who most of the ballot choices were? I didn’t watch the news. I didn’t read the paper. I had never experienced what seemed like the real or imminent threat of total political failure, and although I sometimes preferred one candidate to another, I never thought to myself, “Well, if this other person wins, it could be the end of civilization as we know it.”

A few things happened as I evolved into a more socially responsible human. I got older, for one thing. The hubris of youth is long behind me, at this point, and with it, the notion that I am not responsible when it comes to the awesome privilege of having a say in my country’s governance. Also, I became a parent, and it’s funny how many things that didn’t matter much before I desperately loved humans who will outlive me now hold the utmost importance to me. Those things happened even before I married a journalist, and so in addition to those changes, I’ve now come to understand both politics and the importance of community understanding/involvement in a way I never did when I was younger. Also: Hello, Internet. The ways we can get news and sound bites and fact-checking these days makes any “it’s too much work” complaints from pre-Internet days (granted, those were whiny) moot. You want to be informed? Everything is literally right there in your pocket.

This current election cycle is literally causing me to have insomnia and panic attacks. I am scared. I’m scared for our country’s future, I’m scared by what’s happening all around me, I’m scared this is one of those “point of no return” pivots in history where, somehow, hatred has become an acceptable way of life.

I realized this morning that I have spent the better part of a year supporting Hillary Clinton wholeheartedly—with enthusiasm, among friends; with my donations; with my volunteer hours—but quietly. I don’t have a sticker on my car or a yard sign, in large part because of the stories I’ve heard about vandalism and confrontations when others do. The last time I volunteered for the Democratic Party, I bought myself a Clinton/Kaine button and put it on my purse—a small gesture, to be sure. A week later, I realized it was gone. I mentally retraced my steps; someone took it, but to silence me or because they wanted it for themselves? I don’t know. I didn’t replace it. Meanwhile, my daughter called home and told me about her friend at school whose car had both side mirrors broken off with a hammer. Campus police said the crime was “likely politically motivated.” You guessed it: Hillary bumper sticker.

I realized during the debate last night that we as a country have come to a place where telling the truth is no longer seen as important, where someone who is smart and prepared is vilified as elitist, where misogyny is so rampant yet accepted, the male candidate can interrupt the female candidate 51 times, often with childish outbursts and documented falsehoods, and still be seen as a viable potential leader of the country. I realized this morning as I read yet another shrewd analysis of why Clinton appears so threatening to so many that my oft-repeated “It doesn’t matter whether a candidate is male or female” is something I want to believe, sure, but not something that’s true.

I realized as I sipped my coffee this morning and replayed in my head a conversation I had yesterday with my daughter that we as women internalize more than we realize. You see, my daughter—as a first-semester college freshman—is having a fabulous start to her college experience in countless ways… all except one. She has one professor with whom she’s having an issue. And because she’s a self-possessed young woman who can handle herself and knows when it’s important to speak up for herself, she went to see the professor yesterday to discuss said issue. And—every woman reading this is now going to do the slow nod of recognition—what my daughter got for her trouble was a lot of “oh, sure, of course, but actually” peppered among the many interruptions of what she was trying to say. Her concerns were waved away and she was told everything was fine. So she did what anyone in her position would do, I assume: she left his office and called her mom and cried with frustration about what had just happened. And when I said, “Okay, that’s awful, here’s what you can do next—” she cried harder and told me it probably wasn’t worth it because it wouldn’t matter and nothing would change. Worse, she was afraid that taking the next step would cause the professor to retaliate. She didn’t say she felt it went down this way because she was female (I don’t know if she thought that, even), but she definitely felt powerless and made to feel “less than.” It could be age, it could be power, it could be gender; to me, the problem is when we accept that for whatever reason, power held above us must be the final answer, fair or no.

As I had my coffee and thought about that conversation, again, it occurred to me that at 18, my daughter has already internalized that the most logical conclusion of a young woman pushing back against male rules is that the woman is talked over and rendered invisible, at best, or further persecuted, at worst. And everything else happening in this election aside (and yes, I realize there is no shortage of injustices up for grabs right now, obviously, and any discussion of how privileged we are as white middle-class folks is a whole ‘nother thing), to sit with this being 2016 and that being our reality made me so angry I didn’t even know how to proceed. (As fate would have it, my daughter called me this morning about something else—and I took the opportunity to remind her that she has the right and the responsibility to stand up for herself, and while I can’t say that it has anything to do with her viewing of the debate last night, she agreed and we outlined a plan together for how she will proceed. I can’t promise her it will work, but I can promise her she will be glad she didn’t let it go simply because someone in power tried to convince her she doesn’t matter.) I am done being angry quietly.

I support Hillary Clinton for president. I support her wholeheartedly, not because she is a woman, but because she is an accomplished, lifelong public servant who has not just created real, positive change in our country, but who has managed to do it while men consistently waved her away and assumed they knew better.

I know she’s not perfect. I know she’s made mistakes. (I also know she’s not a pathological liar who seems to enjoy inciting violence and hatred, but, y’know: details.) I know that if I hadn’t already come to a deep understanding of our civic responsibility to participate in democracy before this election, I’d be there now.

If you are American, please do your research before this election, and please register to vote and exercise your right to do so. I know not everyone agrees with me, and that’s okay. Today two women whom I respect surprised the heck out of me: one by expressing a level of vitriol about Clinton that sounded like it came straight from the “All Democrats Come From Satan” handbook, and one by outright stating she plans to vote for Trump (but no further explanation was offered and… yeah, I got nothing). This year is unlike any other in history in terms of the departure from accepted decorum and how the public seems to view what’s happening. So from now until the election, I’ll be staying loud. I’m going to be loud for my daughter, for myself, for those two women who maybe never had someone remind them that just because it happens doesn’t mean it’s okay. I’m going to be loud in the hope that eventually I wake up from this nightmare.

Photo Source: HillaryClinton.com

Mir Kamin
About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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Comments

  • chiqry2

    Yes to all this. My biggest frustration is colleagues/friends/internet people who say, “Both candidates are terrible, it’s impossible to choose.” HELL NO. One is a racist sexist egomaniac with no experience, no morals, and no desire to help anyone but himself. The other is intelligent, well-spoken, and experienced. How are they even considered equally bad? Is that a joke?

    • Melissa Hunting

      YES. Clinton may not be a perfect candidate but I’m having trouble understanding how one could not choose. I share your frustration.

    • Erin

      HEAR HEAR

  • Kendra

    Thank you. Beautifully put. I for one, refuse to believe that humanity has been lost and hatred is accepted as the norm. #ImWithHer too.

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  • Sara

    I just want to point out that this country does have four presidential candidates, not just two. If we gave all four an equal voice, we might be surprised who gets elected.

    • Mir

      You’re correct. Talking about dismantling the two-party system is another thing altogether, of course. I have done my research on all four candidates and still feel Clinton is the most logical choice, but of course that’s my opinion and no one needs to agree with me.

    • Lisa

      A protest vote is a wasted vote. #imwithher

    • Stephanie

      Actually, there are far more than four candidates running for president. There are candidates from several other parties, including the Constitution Party (this one, like the Green and Libertarian, is on all 50 ballots), the Party of Socialism and Liberalism, the Reform Party USA, the Socialist Party, and the Socialist Workers Party. So don’t say that. It’s not accurate. There are four candidates with any sort of name recognition, but really, only two have a chance at being president. (and the fact that one is a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, failed businessman, makes the choice clear)

  • Monique

    Hi Mir,

    I read this article on “A Mighty Girl” this morning and your post made me think of it immediately. I know you have encouraged Chickie to be a strong and independent young woman, but maybe something here will help: https://www.facebook.com/amightygirl/posts/1117203838315928:0

    Being a strong woman can be hard, but it is worth it – Chickie should be proud to stand up for herself, and not give in.

    • Mir

      Thanks for this, Monique!

  • Sarah Tate Dunlap

    Yes to all of this! Thank you!!!

  • mom244evermom

    Very nice. My problem is that in the past I could agree to disagree with people, respect their reasons for making a choice different from mine. Now? I. just. can’t. I don’t get it, I can’t fathom it. How on earth can anyone vote for someone so unqualified and unsuitable, let alone so ignorant, juvenile and hateful is just beyond me.

    • bookworm81

      That’s exactly where I am. Before this my most WTF!? moment was all the people voting for W because they “wanted to have a beer with him” which seems almost charmingly naive of them now. I’ve been worried and stressed about elections before but this is the first time an election has thrown me into a depression. The fact that there are so many people in this country who are prepared to vote for someone so hateful is just appalling to me.

      • Mir

        Yes to both of you. I saw someone saying online today “Hey, remember when we thought Palin was as crazy as it could possibly get…? Seems kind of charming, now.”

  • Mir

    Gonna be honest—I pretty much stopped listening at “I do not vote.” I don’t agree with your view of Clinton, obviously, but pair it with “I’ve decided not to participate in democracy the way it’s designed” and it’s hard to grant any seriousness to talk of a mob, IMHO.

    • Mia

      Yeah, I can respect your view. I admit that mine is cynical and nihilistic, because it also stems from a fundamental distaste for humanity as a whole. I don’t want to participate, and democracy is only one aspect in which I don’t. I’m also a hermit and a weirdo artist/musician, so it goes with the territory.

      I agree that if one wishes to participate in society, they should participate in its governing systems. Personally, I am far too disillusioned. I see that everyone is just making knee-jerk reactions based on purely emotional motives, for instance feeling kinship with Hillary because she is female. It’s irrelevant, her policies and her impact is what matters in the end. Same for Trump, his racist remarks are red herrings, what will he actually do in the office? Build his wall, bring back slavery? Doubtful. Yet these are the actual reasons people base their votes on, emotional reasons.

      I like this quote from John Pilger, paraphrased: “Whoever gets elected will be just another American president.” Obama has proven this more than anything else.

      • Mir

        Just to clarify, I don’t feel any kinship with Clinton as a candidate because she’s female. I do feel some kinship when it comes to being fellow female humans, watching as she’s vilified for things male politicians (and male people in general) do, and are not taken to task for, all the time. I happen to agree with her politics, mostly. I also feel that she has come under a level of scrutiny and ridicule that can only be attributed to misogyny. Again: my opinion.

        Furthermore, I do not believe Trump’s racist (or misogynistic, or xenophobic, or fat-shaming) comments to be “red herrings.” Much as I don’t understand the criticism of a politician who’s “too smart” (personally, I’d like the overseer of my country to be pretty smart!), I don’t understand anyone who gives a pass to a leader who regularly indulges in baseless hate. It isn’t a red herring that he cannot control his temper or his mouth, nor is it a red herring that he’s very clear about his belief that “all men are created equal” is for people who aren’t as fabulous as him. What will he do in office? Grant legitimacy to hatred. You’ve heard of the Holocaust, right…? Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

        • Mia

          Trump’s racism pales in comparison to his gross incompetence. The latter is what everyone should be worried about. The fact that with all his wealth, his incredibly favorable starting position in life, most of his grandiose projects ended up in shambles and millions of debt. Isn’t this something far more important to consider? What is he going to do, given the reins of an entire country?

          Yet Hillary frightens me far more, because she is the vector of the current USA foreign policy. I concur with John Pilger’s view of her. (Not gonna recount it here, I’m already being too long-winded.)

          When I was a child, people started a war because they were told, “you will be put in death camps again.” Basically the same thing you just told me, “remember the Holocaust?” Those fear-mongering rumors threw an entire region into chaos and manipulated people into war. It happened so predictably again after 9/11, but at least that one avoided my immediate doorstep. This is why I am wary of strong but comfortable emotional responses and try to dig deeper for concrete, practical knowledge.

          Personally, I would never criticise someone for being “too smart.” If I ever do, please take me out back and put me out of my misery. 😀

          It’s difficult to engage in discussion on these subjects in a meaningful way when views and sentiments don’t match. I respect you a lot, you’re smart and I like you as a person. That’s why I read your articles and why I bothered to comment. Please don’t mind me, and have a good rest of the day. 🙂 I believe we can agree on one thing at least: we both hope the outcome will be favorable for the USA and the world. Whatever happens, I hope for that. 🙂

        • I think you made it more than clear when you wrote “I support Hillary Clinton for president. I support her wholeheartedly, not because she is a woman”

  • Gail

    Yes to everything you’ve said. I have only two more words to add – Supreme Court. There is already one vacancy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 years old.

  • Julie

    I have to confess I read Chickadee’s issues as representing yet another example of the ‘look at me, I deserve a voice, my opinion is as valid as yours’ problem with her generation. Had you thought that perhaps her professor’s opinion should carry more weight than hers simply because he’s a professor and she is a first year student, irrespective of gender issues.

    • Tracey

      Sorry, no. That mentality is why it has been and is still easy for those in positions of power to take advantage of others and get away with it.

    • Mir

      Out of respect for my daughter’s privacy, I’m not going to get into the specifics of her situation. I can say that I feel confident she has a legitimate issue (not at all a matter of opinion); whether the professor is responding to her femaleness or her youth or simply behaved badly because that’s his personality, I cannot know. My point was that women, even young ones, even ones who are normally quite assertive, have a fairly universal experience of being brushed off by men who either are or assume themselves to be in a higher position.

  • RayJ

    As someone who disagrees with Hillary’s politics, but also has no respect for Trump’s behavior, I am at a loss of how to vote this election season.

  • Alpha Mom (TM)

    First, no one is telling you how to vote. Did you miss the words, “I know not everyone agrees with me, and that’s okay.”

    Second, discussing politics and the elections is nothing new here. We have done it before and will continue to do so. Voting is more than a right, it’s a privilege and as such we believe discussing politics with children and amongst each other is important.

    Lastly YES, we are incredibly biased. We are biased against politicians that have for example incredible biases against people of color, same sex families and aim to strip away reproductive rights. We are also incredibly biased towards politicians that work hard for the rights and needs of children and families, and ultimately that is what I as parent am focus on.

    • Erin

      ::APPLAUSE:: <3

  • Mir

    I told you how I’m going to vote, and why. And I suggested you vote, too. If you want to vote for someone else, go ahead. 🙂

  • Jennifer

    While I understand and respect opinions against Trump, and I agree that hatred and violence is unacceptable regardless (politically-motivated or otherwise), it is heartbreaking to me that as a contributor to a “Pregnancy and Parenting Resource” website (which I have turned to, appreciated, and enjoyed until reading this post) you can support this woman who not only advocates for the destruction of human life – our unborn children – up through the time of birth, but also is striving to ensure that ALL Americans are forced to financially support the abominable practice of abortion through our taxpayer dollars because HER values are more important than anyone else’s. Talk about making others feel ‘powerless and made to feel “less than” ‘.

    • Mir

      1) Being pro-choice is not “advocating for the destruction of human life,” but I know better than to argue that point with someone who believes abortion is murder. Nonetheless, it’s a sticking point, for me: pro-choice is not pro-abortion. Pro-choice means allowing a woman to make that choice privately with her health care provider(s), rather than allowing the government to legislate her body. You may not agree with abortion, but you do not get to equate that mindset with advocating for the destruction of human life. It is not the same. I am not pro-abortion. I have never had one and I would never have one. But I don’t believe I get to make that choice for everyone else. There’s a difference.

      2) Clinton (and others) believe that Planned Parenthood should receive federal funding not because of the abortion services they provide (which is an estimated 3% of their overall services rendered), but because they are, for many women living in poverty, the only source of free or affordable healthcare in their communities. They do checkups. They do maternity care. They do cancer screenings. They do all sorts of things which are not abortions, and again, to assume that an organization formed and run to provide much-needed healthcare is 100% evil because they include a service with which you do not agree is sort of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater, IMHO. Also, insisting that “her values are more important than anyone else’s” is completely disingenuous—the latest available Pew research data (March 2016) says 56% of Americans believe abortion should remain legal. That’s hardly a candidate picking up a personal belief with disregard for her constituency.

      3) While this is not aimed at you, personally, Jennifer, I’ll just say that a lot of pro-life folks I know also aren’t interested in talking about accessible, affordable birth control, daycare alternatives, or food stamps. I am troubled by the notion that the government should be allowed to force women to carry babies to term, but then asking for assistance in those situations is not their problem. (I have no idea if you feel this way, just noting a trend I’ve seen.) Your whole comment here focuses on unborn children (which, I respect your beliefs, but as many believe clumps of cells are not yet children, I’m not sure your belief gets to take precedence over mine—I’m not forcing you to have an abortion, likewise I don’t think you get to insist others don’t because it bothers you) while we have a major party candidate spouting off about entire religious groups and races. So… yeah, my focus is going to be on the people who already exist, personally.

      • Lauren

        Beautifully argued. Thank you for taking the time to respond to that comment so thouroughly

      • Mir

        And Jennifer, I don’t know if you’re still reading responses, but I think you’ll find this article very interesting. If you want fewer abortions, keeping abortion legal is part of how that happens.

        • jane

          also, Jennifer, your taxpayer dollars are not going toward covering abortions. The Hyde Amendment (1976) prohibits federal funding from covering abortions, except in the narrow instances of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in peril.

  • Marissa

    Excellent post. We can no longer be silent, I made a similar decision last week during a business trip when I grew tired of the “friendly ribbing” about my politics and decided to take it head on. Explain to be how “She’s a liar”, explain to me why “the whole Monica thing” has any bearing on her ability to lead. There’s nothing there when you try to get beyond the parroted sound bites. This isn’t the usual choice between two candidates who will more or less keep us safe and the country functioning — this is a choice between the most prepared and qualified candidate ever and blowing up the whole thing.

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