* Early summer ’08, Wellesley solicited letters from students & alumnae to send to Hillary in compilation.
To Hillary Rodham Clinton
For most of my life, I took no particular interest in feminism, or women’s rights, or any of those seemingly unnecessary relics of a bygone struggle. But sometime last fall, I found myself starting to do things like deliberately writing “she or he” as opposed to the traditional “he or she” whenever I needed to use those constructions. After the first few meetings of a Feminist Political Theory class I took just this past spring, I announced to an “openly feminist” friend of mine that I was going to embrace the feminist label myself. She asked why. I thought about it and realized that while this “transformation” was difficult to pin to anything concrete, there were nonetheless some identifiable reasons for my growing commitment to women’s rights (or perhaps, my increasing recognition of a latent commitment). The first of these reasons was your campaign. Here is what I said to my friend:
“I’ve been a staunch Hillary supporter from the beginning of the campaign (/before then), and throughout I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my mom (and other people) about the race. For some unclear reason, it hit me one day how proud I am to see such a strong and admirable woman–not just candidate but WOMAN–up there, going for the gold, and deserving to get it.”
This sense of pride that swelled so unexpectedly inside of me while watching you campaign was–and is–overwhelming. I am truly sorry to say (and feel) that I dislike Obama very much as a candidate and am one of the millions who will have a very difficult time preventing myself from writing “Hillary Rodham Clinton” in on my ballot.
Again and again I have been awestruck by your intelligence, clarity and humanity. I don’t understand what people find inspiring in Obama’s speeches as I have never felt that I am listening to anything other than the usual vague political rhetoritician when listening to him. But when you speak, you do exactly what I’ve always wished politicians would do: rather than “delivering a speech,” you talk to your audience–with all the articulate, reasoned, witty eloquence of the Wellesley women I remember meeting during my college search and wishing desperately I could someday (in the next 4 years) “grow up” to be like.
Well the four years have passed, and I have, much to my surprise, in fact grown up to be one of those Wellesley women. But as we all know, Women Who Will are never content to settle back on what we’ve achieved and say “that’s good enough.” We keep striving, and so we still need models to set the standard, to give us a concrete picture of what we’re aspiring to, and provide the constant source of inspirational motivation that even Wellesley women need to stay motivated. You are absolutely that model, in so many ways. You’re certainly the most talented political figure I know, and a woman to boot. Imagine that.
And we will, keep imagining. And we will maintain that fierce commitment to turning the contents of our imagination into a reality. I feel a deep sense of loss right now, but I just have to keep reminding myself: there are a whole lot of Wellesley women on a mission out there (here–I’m part of the real world now too), and we’ll change that world yet. Thank you for leading the way–for many years past and many years to come.
With Deepest Gratitude,
(Also on behalf of Robyn Peterson, your greatest fan.)