The night Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, as TV anchors gushed about the penultimate crack in the highest glass ceiling, I tried to lure my 12-year-old daughter into the living room. I wanted her to witness history. She wanted to play a quiz on her phone. So when I put her to bed, I gave her a personal history lesson.
Yes, I’d had plenty of career opportunities, and she would, too. But her grandmother, born in Hillary’s generation, had to fight to go to college, and her options afterward were limited to jobs considered suitable for a woman. Even for those of us who grew up with wider horizons, a female president often seemed like a fantasy, reserved for TV characters and aspirational Barbie dolls. And now, here on TV was an actual, live woman on the brink.
Clinton’s nomination, long coming as it was, still seemed to sock 40-something women like me with a wallop last week. I was a rarity among my peers in the 1980s, a latchkey kid with a working mom, so my thrill might have been especially acute. But it wasn’t just me: My social feeds are filled with attestations of tears and unexpectedly deep joy.
But to women younger than I am, to say nothing of girls my daughter’s age, the ramp-up to history has been decidedly ho-hum…and in what Gen Xers like me would recognize as a profound irony, enthusiasm for Hillary’s groundbreaking campaign has, in large part, been a casualty of empowerment culture itself.
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