Hillary on the Verge of the White House: So, How Did We Get Here?

An in-depth examination of the history of women in the White House.

So. There’s an upcoming presidential election in the United States, and, well, it is going to be kind of historic: either we will be driven off a cliff by fragile white masculinity incarnate (Donald Trump), or a woman will be “allowed” to win (Hillary Clinton), though I’m not entirely convinced that James Madison didn’t hide this secret clause in the Constitution:


As pretty much every thinkpiece ever has said, you have very valid reasons for not supporting Hillary/White Feminism, you have very valid reasons for uniting the party behind “Never Trump,” and, yeah, you have reason to be mad at the sexist criticisms of her. But most of all, when it comes to potentially electing Hillary, one thing is inalienable: IT’S HISTORICAL, PEOPLE.

Because non-white/cis/straight/male/Western history is considered “elective” in history curricula, and so we’re often not taught about the women pioneers in this country, it’s probably difficult to appreciate such potential history. But the idea of women in politics remains important, and it also remains inherently radical.

Even as their roles have evolved, women have faced issues unknown to men: they’ve been warned of trespassing outside their “God-given” domestic spheres; made wary of the conundrum of too bossy/not assertive enough leadership; faced an overall lack of trust in women and their decision-making abilities; fought the double-standard expectation of likability in women; lived with gendered media coverage; and they’ve learned to accept the general obsession with female appearance and beauty. It has been, to say the least, a long journey on the way to Hillary being nominated to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

This breakdown of that journey comes with some caveats: obviously many other countries, nations, and tribes have had women as presidents, as head monarchs, as empresses, as military leaders, etc. Even in America, Native women were embracing female leadership and matriarchies long before white societies, and for most of the suffrage movement, Native and black and immigrant women were completely left out.

That’s not to say that women accepted their status: they’ve fought through decades of protest, of being the daring “fringe” candidates, of sexist media smearing, of firsts (and thankfully, some seconds and thirds), of representation across parties, ideologies, race, ethnicity, class, and geography. One thing they all had in common: they didn’t care what anyone else thought, and never stopped in their collective campaign to run the world. Hillary, you have this history to thank. And it’s plenty of history.