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Why Hillary's Loss Feels So Personal

The Careerist

November 12, 2016

160219-hillaryyoungwomen-editorial

 

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.

 vchen@alm.com

 

 

Comments

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Vivia,

You are so right.

I am Hillary, and this hurt.

Shelly Pagac, Esquire

I would love to see a woman become president, but I'm okay with it not being this particular woman. I did vote for her, but only because Trump was on the other side. If it was any other Republican candidate besides Trump or Cruz I would have swung the other way (and I usually vote D).


Hillary has issues. I don't believe everything said about her, but I don't have the impression she is a good person or an honest one.


She lost, but I don't believe she lost because she's a woman. When half the country intensely dislikes you and finds your behavior repugnant, well, that's an entirely different issue.

Just so you know Hilary has horrified me from that first Barbara Walters interview when she said she wasn't some little unprintable standing by her man...the woman who would be president would never have been so cruel to another woman at all much less have done so publicly.
Monica Lewinsky...would you stay with someone who thought sexual behavior with someone that childish was defensible ? My president would never have tortured another woman publicly.
My president would not have stolen the White House furniture on departure.
My president would not use her family's charitable foundation to pay for her child's wedding and multi-million $ apartment in NYC. Or anything else but for what it was intended.
And my president would have been horrified by the assault on the American embassy in Ben Gazi.
And she would have made every funeral. And she would have written a condolence letter to the family of her staff that would have done us all proud.

I have always applauded your column and appreciated your insights.
And it is a mark of my professional respect that I have written this.
You may not understand but I have put it out there.
And no I don't care if you publish it.
I'd almost rather that you didn't.
I am an American and I do not need you to agree with me."

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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