Hillary Clinton's Bravery Is No Small Thing

How rare it is that we take the stage from the feminist position, and ask not how we as a society can save the underprivileged women - but how we as women can save our society.

Merav Michaeli
Merav Michaeli
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Facebook page for Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, April 13, 2015.
Facebook page for Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, April 13, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Merav Michaeli
Merav Michaeli

Since this has been talked about so much and expected and prepared for, this is apparently the least-new news that could be: Hillary Clinton is running. Obviously. And yet, not. Despite everything, it is not a given and not trivial at all that Clinton has decided – again – to run for the presidency. It is not a given because even now, when a feminist woman with so much experience, knowhow, status, connections and power decides to implement that power, there are many men who feel she is taking something that belongs to them.

For instance, a year and a half ago (!), Time magazine published a cover story with the headline “Can anyone stop Hillary?” with a picture of a woman’s high-heeled shoe with a tiny man in a suit hanging on for dear life.

Many big guns are already lined up against her. So yes, it is still news that any woman is insisting on running for president, against the chauvinism and the sexism.

Because after what Hillary Clinton went through in the last primaries, even she had to think long and hard whether to take the chance. Because the risk, despite appearances, is still very high.

With all the assets – the material, the status, the experience and the knowhow – there is the risk that something like what happened to her last time will happen again. She is already being painted as old, scary, unattractive, irrelevant. Or it could suddenly become clear as day that the “risk” involved in electing a woman president immediately after a black president is too great. Or some butterfly effect will make it appear that a Democratic victory is possible only if the next great thing is essentially already here: a candidate even more progressive, even further left – only, for instance, if New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio is suddenly a candidate. That is one huge chance. That is a very high cliff, and Clinton is standing at the edge now.

It is not a given. Many women play the good wife and pay the full price just so it will buy his victory, and not hers. Because even if you are the most privileged, the most career-oriented, you walk that path behind him. That path has never ended with the woman being elected president.

For all those reasons, we women need to hope very much that there is no one who can stop Hillary Clinton. Because you cannot be what you cannot see. And until now we could not see a woman in the role of leader of the free world. Until now, we haven’t even seen a candidate for that. Even the candidacy is a glass ceiling that must be cracked. And Hillary Clinton is not just any woman who will be a U.S. presidential candidate, but the first woman who brought the expression “women’s rights are human rights” onto the global stage.

When I first took the Knesset podium and spoke as a feminist, I understood how rare it is that we take that stage from that position. The position where we think not about how we as a society save the underprivileged women in our society, but how we as women save our society. When Hillary Clinton decides to run for the presidency again, she takes another step toward making that saying a reality.

The writer is a Labor Party MK.

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