Let's not kid ourselves. This hurts.
For all those women out there who've played by the rule book, Hillary's loss feels distinctly personal. For women lawyers, particularly, she was one of our own.
She did what many of us did and still do: We were the good kids in school—the ones who didn't interrupt or get into trouble. We not only did our homework and got As, but we did extra credit. We went off to top schools and graduated with honors. We wanted to prove ourselves and happily took jobs in a male dominated profession. We worked our ass off, put up with all sorts of nonsense and sucked it up. We paid our dues and finally attained professional respect and success.
But seldom the top job.
That always seems to go to one of the boys. Some of them were whip smart and deserving. But there were also guys who just seemed destined—in a way women never are. You know who I'm talking about—the guys who get invited by senior male partners for drinks, late night dinners or some last minute event. We see them leave together, like proud dads with their adoring sons or old drinking buddies, while we stayed at the office with our heads buried in a document.
Their promotions to partnership or senior positions seem to happen so easily and naturally—even though some of those guys didn't work as hard we did nor did they have as much experience. And, some, frankly, didn't seem all that bright. Yet, somehow, they glided right in front of us, knocked us out of the running and left us in the dust.
The analogy between Hillary's lost and the plight of women in Corporate America is painfully obvious, though what happened in the presidential election is immeasurably worse with greater consequences. If it's any comfort, Corporate America is a model of gender equality next to the electoral process by which Trump is breezing to the Oval Office. Indeed, I'm pretty confident that someone like Trump with zero relevant experience (not to mention the sexual assault charges and temperament stuff) wouldn't have a chance of beating out Hillary in most mainstream jobs.
Which bring us to this: Women always knew things weren't fair, but they could live with that because they thought working harder and hanging tough meant we'd eventually triumph. We put up with a lot of bullshit because we believe, fundamentally, that things are getting better.
But Trump's victory tells us we've been kidding ourselves. His win tells us how fragile women's achievements have been. While we've been slowly and painstakingly building our foundation, he comes over and smashes everything in one fell swoop. And just like that, we're reduced to a pile of rubble.
Of course, these days, everyone is trying to figure out how Hillary could have lost to this vulgarian, this bully, this lout. Did she fail to convey a positive message? Could she have handled the email scandal more deftly? Why didn't she appear nicer to voters? How come she didn't show the kind of human emotion that she displayed during her concession speech? And, for goodness sake, why is she just not likeable?
But what no one is asking is why she wasn't more qualified.
And that is what makes her loss so painful.