Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton and that glass ceiling

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“You’ve come a long way, baby.”

A lot of readers may not recognize that reference, but I guarantee you that Hillary Clinton would. Back in the late ’60s and ’70s, as she came out of all-female Wellesley College and then Yale Law and began trying to elbow her way onto the bottom rungs of the male-dominated political ladder, a tobacco company was using that slogan to market its cigarettes to American women, telling them that they had made such enormous progress toward gender equality that hey, “you’ve got your own cigarette now, baby.”

vslimsThe ads were everywhere. Its slogan was part validation, and in hindsight part condescending taunt, but that’s how it was back then. The Equal Rights Amendment, a constitutional amendment to give women full legal equality, had passed both houses of Congress by huge margins, with strong support from both parties. It was simple and straightforward — “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex” — and its quick adoption by the necessary number of states was considered inevitable. Even a proposal to water it down by exempting women from the draft was defeated easily in Congress.

But it was not to be that easy, and that hurdle of state legislative approvals was never cleared. Instead, the ERA became an early victim of the culture wars, with conservative opponents fighting its adoption by claiming that it was anti-housewife, anti-mother, anti-family and anti-biblical, and would require same-sex bathrooms and other social horrors. It came up for a vote three times in the Georgia Legislature, and was handily defeated all three times.

It has taken all of Clinton’s adult working life, almost half a century, to progress from that supposedly enlightened time to a moment when a woman has finally been nominated to be president by a major American political party. And regardless of political ideology, it’s important to note that historic moment. Her progress is our progress.

And yes, the grumblers have a point.  Hillary’s long road to the Democratic nomination took her first through the White House as Bill Clinton’s first lady, a fact that some would use to diminish her accomplishment, as if she rode in on her husband’s coattails. That ignores a lot of things, not least the very real and equal partnership between the two of them, a relationship that President Clinton — so far there’s still just the one — described in warm and glowing terms before a national TV audience last night.

In fact, the roots of much of today’s anti-Hillary sentiment can be found in the angry response that partnership inspired when the Clintons appeared on the national scene in the early ’90s. When Hillary defended her decision to have both a legal career and a family, saying back then that “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas,” the anger and hatred that comment elicited was stunning and to this day has still not abated.

And in the end, that grumbling about coattails reveals much more about us as a supposedly enlightened society than it does about Clinton. If the first and only woman ever to have made that ascent in our nation’s history was forced to walk in her husband’s shadow for a while to do it, surely it’s because the traditional paths taken by men have been blocked to her and to every other person of her gender. She took the only route that America offered to her.

You want another gauge at how difficult that path has been and continues to be to this day? Look right here at home, at Georgia. The people of this state have yet to elect a woman to serve as governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and a number of other important roles.

Even more compelling, look at today’s political roster: Georgia has 14 members of Congress and two U.S. senators. None is a woman. We have eight executive officers elected statewide, from governor through agriculture secretary and state school superintendent; none is a woman. Throw in the five Public Service Commissioners elected statewide, and again all are male.

Thirty-three top state and federal offices. Thirty-three males. In 2016.

If the gender playing field were equal, that would be like flipping a coin 33 times, and having it come up heads 33 times in a row. According to a coin-flip probability calculator — and yes, such things exist, thank goodness — the odds of that happening naturally, without outside forces influencing the outcome, are 1.16415 X 10 to the negative 10th power.

Or one out of 8.59 billion.

So yes, powerful forces are undoubtedly at work to produce an outcome like that. You may not see them or understand them or want to acknowledge them. But like gravity, you know damn well that it exists, because you can see its impact everywhere around you. Overcoming that is a truly historic achievement, an achievement that will make it easier for other women in other roles to also defy those forces and reach for the pinnacle.

We’ve come a long way, baby; we still have a long way to go.

Reader Comments 0

885 comments
Mary Hawks
Mary Hawks

Not Hillary don't need her for president

Leon Ziglar
Leon Ziglar

Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton alone is responsible for her ascendency to this nomination. She is cold, callous, ruthless, has no personaltiy and no political. If it were not for Bill, she would be nowhwere.

Danny Garner
Danny Garner

Just wondering if as big a fuss would have been made if the first female presidential candidate had been Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin. Probably, but not in a good way.

Omar K. Ali
Omar K. Ali

All I could think about was Stone Cold Steve Austin and his entrance. Whether people want to admit it or not, both of the conventions took pages from professional wrestling. Donald took the Undertaker entrance. Lol

Elaine Shelton
Elaine Shelton

Trump neef to be disqualify for telling the rusdiand to havl hillary emails

Bill Snapp
Bill Snapp

Give Us Symbolism Not Substance!

JFitzgerald Myers
JFitzgerald Myers

A powerful moment. Whoever did that montage with the shattered glass should be commended. Watched it over and over and over and over......Alicia Keys song was so appropriate with a funky beat.

Kerry Hill
Kerry Hill

I still haven't heard anybody tell me why you hate her so much

Tiffany McCune
Tiffany McCune

And some women are just jealous. People also like to run with what the crowd is saying with no information of their own.

Laura Irvin Parks
Laura Irvin Parks

Jealousy. Some boys will not wrap their heads around the fact that Hillary has more power than they will ever see in their pitiful little lives.

Kerry Hill
Kerry Hill

That was pretty cool and she came in with a run DMC beat nice

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

It's an embarrassment to me, and to all women, that out of all the really smart, good women in this country..the Democrats parade this corrupt, lying, ruthless, morally bankrupt old hag out there. I'm not even talking politics..Dems and Republicans both could have found a much better female to represent us. Oprah Winfrey could have won this election for the Democrats. HRC is an awful standard bearer for women.

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

OMG I hope you're being sarcastic with that question Kerry Hill. Seriously. Nobody could be that stupid.

Kerry Hill
Kerry Hill

Dona Elaine Hubbs like I thought you have no answers other than insults typical must be a Trump supporter sounds just like him

Erica Allen
Erica Allen

Dona Elaine Hubbs you're an idiot stfu and have a seat.

Sybil Berry Starker
Sybil Berry Starker

Donna, you represent Republicans perfectly, feeling entitled to invade another citizen's personal space and free speech with hate, bigotry, rudeness, disrespect, and unwillingness to engage in genuine dialogue. How dare you call Kerry or anybody "stupid". Stop this behavior and make your parents (and yourself) proud of you! We're all entitled to our own opinion as you are. You have the choice to try to be your best self every minute of every day. Be nice, be your best and celebrate the miracle of experiencing life!

JoAnn Virges
JoAnn Virges

Breakthrough the glass and start a new chapter...

Chad Plymel
Chad Plymel

Do you know why women's feet are smaller than men's ? So that they can stand closer to the sink to wash dishes

Valerie Barker
Valerie Barker

Thank you for breaking that "GLASS CEILING." Women are the world and it is left up to us to correct the wrong that has been going on. It started with us and it is going to take us to correct it. LET'S DO THIS!

Chad Plymel
Chad Plymel

Do you know why women's feet are smaller than men's ? So that they can stand closer to the sink to wash dishes. Shut up !!!!!

Gerald Bedgood
Gerald Bedgood

A very sad historic moment, of all the quality female leaders, past and present that this country has produced, this corrupt, lying, evil person received the honor.

Scott Richardson
Scott Richardson

If you want to say for a major party you would be correct, but from an actual historical perspective Victoria Woodhull did it first in 1872, 200 plus years before Hillary. The fact is almost 40 women have run since Ms. Woodhull did. Hillary is a bit late to the party.

Scott Richardson
Scott Richardson

JFitzgerald Myers actually no there isn't, only the media has made a difference. Hillary is running 250 years after Woodhull, yet not you or any of those empty headed talking gas bags seem to realize that.

JFitzgerald Myers
JFitzgerald Myers

Scott Richardson The historical context of this is not about a WOMAN running for president. It's about the first WOMAN to be NOMINATED by a major political party in America. Sir,there is a difference in actually running and being nominated by your perspective party of affiliation.

Charlotte Dixon
Charlotte Dixon

Some don't see to care how many crimes the Clintons have committed, they will vote for her. We have the proof she lied more times than can be counted...This American will never vote for another Democrat!

Stephen Scruggs
Stephen Scruggs

Uh, hiring people at democratic convention to fill seats. Lol

Bob Hunt
Bob Hunt

More BS from Bookman Hillary's lackey, Emails pretty much prove she stole the spot from Bernie, but you won't hear any of the from lackey Bookman or the AJC/Clinton news. She's a disgusting liar, been a pathological liarher whole life...but Bookman the lackey will never mention one

Karole Davis-Jackson
Karole Davis-Jackson

Ugh... Hillary didn't break through anything. Victoria Claflin Woodhull was the first woman to run for President.

Bob Hunt
Bob Hunt

shhhh Bookman doesn't like facts

Angel Fortenberry
Angel Fortenberry

But not from a major political party. Jill Stein runs every year, but we have a binary system, not a parliamentary one, so third parties don't garner enough votes to win a trip to Walmart, but enough to sometimes royally screw the country.

Sara Foster
Sara Foster

Angel Fortenberry Like the 2-party system we've had forever doesn't royally screw the country on a daily basis??

Karole Davis-Jackson
Karole Davis-Jackson

Sara Foster I don't even think we have a 2 party system anymore. It's a 1 party system with different letter designations. R or D

Mary Negron
Mary Negron

We were never meant to have a two party system.

Angel Fortenberry
Angel Fortenberry

I love how people can't tell the differences in the party platforms. Did you all vote for Bush or Nader in 2000?

Carol Shaw
Carol Shaw

those in glass houses should not commit crimes... just sayin

Derrick Davis
Derrick Davis

If he wins it will be because the DNC conspired with corporate media (including comcast- trumps cash cow) to elect the only person in the world who could lost to a fascist.

Derrick Davis
Derrick Davis

Yup. Everything. I listed is verifiable with simple google searches. You dont hear about it because corporate media wants to focus on how bad trump is to give clinton a pass.