Hillary Clinton in a pink suit speaking at the 1995 Conference in Beijing.

history, unfolded

Since Muhammad Ali passed away last week, I’ve been grateful for how many people have come forward not only to reflect on his greatness, but to place that greatness in its proper context.

Folks have been celebrating one of the most talented, charismatic and beloved men ever to have lived, and in particular reminiscing about and naming the fact that said greatness was earned, not given; that at the time it was far from obvious or glorious, but in fact felt divisive and difficult. That Ali’s was a gravelly, grueling greatness seems to have made it all the more impressive and meaningful in the eyes of those who lived through the struggle with him in real time.

In reflecting on this, I can’t help but wonder: how long will it take for Hillary Clinton’s accomplishment today — becoming the first woman to capture a major U.S. political party’s presidential nomination – to make us beam with pride? To shake our heads incredulously at the thought of what she has had to ensure as a woman candidate? To celebrate a shifted political landscape that now includes a historical precedent for a major woman presidential candidate?

Now Hillary Clinton is no Muhammad Ali, and I understand that while some of us already feel this way, it might take others awhile, if they ever find these feelings about her. But the truth is that whatever your politics and feelings about Hillary, and we have a lot of them at this site and across the board, her accomplishment today is a major one by any standard for a movement concerned with gender equity.

And let’s be real: Donald vs. Hillary in a general election is the gendered political shitshow we’ve been waiting for. Hillary Clinton may not be the intersectional feminist candidate of our millennial dreams, but Donald Trump sure is the anti-intersectional feminist villain of our goddamn nightmares.

He gaslights us. He negs us. He conflates us with our husbands. He roots for us to lose our homes and advocates against us being able to do our jobs or enter the country based on our religion or ethnicity.

Rebecca Traister puts a finer point on the drastic choice we face between these candidates in her excellent recent profile of Hillary Clinton, framing Donald vs. Hillary as a clearcut showdown between two drastically different visions:

What the nomination of Trump, the enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders, and the nomination of Clinton — who is very clearly running as a successor to Barack Obama — tell us is that this election is a kind of civil war. It’s a referendum on the country’s feelings about inclusion, about women, people of color, and their increasing influence, and how it edges out the white men who have long had an exclusive grip on power.

So no, Hillary Clinton does not speak for all of us. But it’s also clear that an intersectional feminist lens begs us to see the ways in which all of us are at stake in this election. We do not have to abandon our intersectional feminist principles to celebrate this gender equity milestone. In fact, we must not. We can remain vigilant against both patriarchy (like not having a major party female presidential nominee for over 200 years) and white feminism.

Our intersectional feminist principles and movements made this nomination possible, and women of color will continue to determine elections across the country. Our movement will continue to push Hillary’s candidacy to be stronger and work better for us, and to pave the way for more diverse and visionary leaders in the future. And our movement will continue to provide an intersectional analysis through which to view the hateful sexism that has already emerged and will surely ramp up as this presidential election progresses. But for now, we’re living in history. And we’re allowed to live that history, basking in its complexity, looking for the next moment when we can say we were there when.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman started blogging with Feministing in 2008, and now runs partnerships and strategy as a co-Executive Director. She is also the Director of Youth Engagement at Women Deliver, where she promotes meaningful youth engagement in international development efforts, including through running the award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. Lori was formerly the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and has also worked at the United Nations Foundation on the Secretary-General's flagship Every Woman Every Child initiative, and at the International Women’s Health Coalition and Human Rights Watch. As a leading voice on women’s rights issues, Lori frequently consults, speaks and publishes on feminism, activism and movement-building. A graduate of Harvard University, Lori has been named to The Root 100 list of the most influential African Americans in the United States, and to Forbes Magazine‘s list of the “30 Under 30” successful mediamakers. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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