The first time today I was able to really consider it all – how to verbalize the anger and frustration and loss – was after I passed a couple male colleagues in the hall, after a joke was cracked, and I lashed back that this was not the time to speak to me about elections.
I didn’t even realize I’d feel such a loss before it happened.
I was on the verge of losing it all day, of letting out a verbal barrage of why their offhanded remarks or cable-tv inspired thoughts were not the reason why so many of us are so hurt and disillusioned today. Why it’s more personal than a party thing or political leaning thing. A why-do-you-even-care-you’re-an-expat thing.
I felt raw and I got raw. I showed my rawness. It was open and I wasn’t privately licking the wounds. I let them show.
That is never my strategy at work. It never has been in all my career.
And maybe it was because I never really believed this outcome could happen, that it took me so by surprise, that suddenly I was so so incredibly, deeply, painfully sad today. Sad for her. Sad for Hillary.
Because she may be flawed; she may be toxic; she may be power hungry; she may be criminal – but one thing she is, that I am too, is veiled. We women are veiled.
We veil ourselves in the workplace. We veil ourselves because it’s the extra credit we have to fulfill to be on the same page as you. We veil ourselves to help alleviate the pain and progress the potential of decreasing that pay inequality.
We veil ourselves so we avoid the pain and hypocrisy of being called bossy or nasty or bitch.
The veil is invisible, but the fact is, every woman I know in the workplace wears one. Some are thinner than others. But it’s been taught to us, ingrained in us, through the way our parents spoke to us, through the education system, through religion, through society.
Put on a smile.
Don’t say no.
Even if all things were equal – paychecks, experience, power, chances of winning the presidency – the woman still wears the veil. All things being equal, she’s ten steps behind.
Hillary wears the veil.
I wear the veil.
A world where a presidential candidate can claim he’s great for women, and then threaten to sue every woman with a story to tell, is a world where we still wear the veil.
A world where a presidential candidate advises victims of sexual harassment in the workplace to find new careers, is a world where we still wear the veil.
The veil is thin, it’s sheer. You can’t see it unless you know it. That’s why the men who are disappointing me don’t even know why.
I grew up in the 90s; I only knew a strong-headed first lady. I grew up in the 90s; I attended Bring Your Daughter to Work Days. I grew up in the 90s; I believed wholeheartedly the glass ceilings were being shattered and I’d get a taste of that one day.
I was fed this by parents, education, society. But I knew the only way to do it was don the veil.
I button up my feelings at work. I’m complacent and cooperative. I don’t let my anger get in there. The 25-cent difference in my paycheck is eaten up by being agreeable and tame and a woman.
So when I passed the colleagues in the hall; when I swatted away stupid comments by privileged clueless well-meaning men; I lost it, when I let feelings out through my pores; when I got nasty – I thought of her.
All things being equal – and so many of you made that point – ‘they’re both horrible’ – as if all things were indeed equal – you don’t see what it’s like to be marginalized, veiled. When your whole life you lived the experienced of being marginalized, and one of your own is up there breaking down the way for you to follow – you have no idea what that means, how it reverberates. The ripple effect of knowing the veil paid off.
Privacy. Secrecy. Coldness. Power hungry. Overprotective. Flippant. Elitist. Pantsuits. Not a hair out of place. No home baked cookies.
It’s not all the work of the veil. But so much was born from it.
We can’t just be. We have to be in comparison to.
We have to lean in. We shouldn’t come off too strong.
We have to have it all. We can’t possibly achieve 100% at everything we do.
We live up to a standard. But we were asking for it by living up to that standard.
It was a strong, tiring try. I wanted a reason to put the veil away. Or peek out from behind it. Or know that maybe my daughters have a shot at not needing one.
Hillary made a crack in the ceiling. She did it with decades of veiled attempts.
But I think the truth is, the woman who becomes the first she-president of the United States will not wear the veil.