Of course I watched the debate last night. There was a lot of blue and one lady in red. From the perspective of a visual artist, that bold isolated red grabs a viewer’s attention quickly. Separating the two candidates from their political personas exposes them for what they are, a man and a woman. Last night was the first time ever in American history that a woman has reached this peak of political influence.
Secretary Hillary Clinton is the first female to speak in this field at this level; she is the only lady to have touched the once untouchable podium. Last night, a woman in America demonstrated extreme and tangible success in her political, public and professional career, engaging perhaps the largest global audience any woman has ever addressed. Regardless, the truth is Clinton annoys a lot of people with her wishy washy certainties and disconnected demeanor. (Although– her shimmy shimmy “Woo!” act was a likeable moment).
While I critiqued the performance, I also managed to zone out a few times into my own thoughts (especially when Trump started screaming “Call Sean something!”). I wondered why it had not yet been acknowledged that Clinton was making history. To be honest, it was an incredible experience to see a woman competing very well for one of the most important leadership roles in the world.
Her blue eyes took center stage for me suddenly, and I said to my husband, “It’s her animated eyes. This is one way she she wins people over.” I noted Clinton’s sparkly big eyes were subtly decorated; when she blinked in her red suit I thought of Minnie Mouse’s eyelashes.
By simply comparing the candidates to Mickey and Minnie (strong mainstream examples of gender for many American children), I could interpret the cultural and personal impact more clearly. Minnie who seemed equal to Mickey in every way was finally getting a chance (yes, the Minnie Mouse). It never crossed my child mind that Minnie Mouse would not have the same opportunities as Mickey, and yet that’s how our political society has reigned since its beginning.
It’s like finally letting a “chick” play on an “all guys” team, and then giving her a fair chance to shine out for the ultimate enhancement of the team. Clinton just happens to be this “chick.” She has opened a giant medieval gate for half the population. Apparently (based on the popular response to Clinton), today, a woman can choose to run for president or not without much backlash which is socially admirable. This big door is finally open, and I think everyone is keen on keeping it open.
Nevertheless, I did not hear a peep about the major barrier that was broken last night. I found only one article celebrating the fact this morning. I haven’t seen a celebratory hashtag trending nor viral commentaries on her makeup. Her gender was not a focus. The media chose not to fuss over the historical moment when she walked on stage.
Clinton’s feat was under-noted. As a millennial woman, I’ll admit I’m pretty hurt. By publicly ignoring the giant victory for women, generations of cultural and historical oppression is forgiven too quickly. As Clinton said in response to her opponent last night, “it can’t be dismissed that easily.”