Monday, October 17, 2016

Guest Blog: Having a woman in charge is a sea change in American culture

By Maryam Chishti
AAPI Millennials for Hillary

GROWING UP, I always thought that I was lucky to have been born a woman. I liked “girly” movies more than those action movies catered to boys. I thought that us women were lucky to have such a variety of clothes and shoes to wear, and know how to cook so well. But lately, in the light of this election, I have begun to see what being a women in America is really about.

Here, you have the most qualified, competent, and clever presidential candidate in the history of American elections. On the other side, you have a terrifying, lying, ego hungry man who wants America to be great again with only terrifying and unjust plans on how to do so. This shouldn’t be a contest … but it is.

If Hillary Clinton were a man, she would have already won this election. But people feel uncomfortable with the idea of a woman in charge. Sometimes, I realize that I do too. The idea is so unfamiliar to us that we look for ways to put her down. And I’m guilty of this as well. I watch Hillary talk with incredibly ease about complex policies, and all I can think about is that her voice sounds a little harsh, and why does she only wear pant suits and never dresses? 

While on the other hand, Bernie Sanders yells every time he gets on a podium and Donald Trump thinks a good plan to defeat ISIS is to “bomb the sh*t out of them.”

Then I think about my own life. How even though I love politics, I never thought there was a place for me at the table: because growing up there wasn’t. The only place for a women in politics seemed to be the wife of a politician. 

In high school, women debaters, women in student government, were never taken seriously. I saw it happen to my peers, and then myself. I watched in awe as another girl and I, the only girls speaking at our Model UN conference, tried to advocate for nuclear bomb shelters in war torn areas. In return, we would only get comments back on our apparel and appearance. 

The culture around women in leadership, women trying to draft policies and implement change, is that it is not our place. And I fell for it, because it is all I have ever known. But I won’t any longer.

Because it’s time. Hillary Clinton needs to be President not only because her opponent is an embarrassment and threat to women everywhere, but because America needs to see a women in the highest office in the land. I think back to the Democratic National Convention, where I was one of the lucky people who got to hand out signs on the floor of the convention center. And when they were about to announce the new Democratic nominee, I ran to the foot of the stage. 

As Martha Fudge declared that Hillary Clinton is the new nominee, and the crowd erupted in cheers, I bent down and began to cry. I was so aware of the enormity of that moment, and here I was; 18-years old, an undeclared college freshmen with a whole life ahead of her sitting on the floor of the convention hall as a new chapter in history was made for the very first time. And in that moment, I realized that anything I wanted to achieve was possible. Hillary, after fighting for 30 plus years, had made it so.

And on that day, I again realized how lucky I was to have been born a woman.

Maryam Chishti is an Indian/American student who was born and raised in New York. She is currently taking her first semester of college off to work for the Hillary Campaign. She will vote for the first time this November.