Today I voted. I voted for president. I voted for down-ballot candidates. I voted for proposals on corporate taxes and veterans’ funding and road repairs. But ultimately, I voted for my daughters.
My daughters, ages 3 and 1, are too young to be aware of the 2016 election, and I’m glad for that. I don’t want the anger, violence and bigotry surrounding this race to harm my kids. I’m not alone: Officials are planning to close some schools that are polling places for fear of the fallout come November 8.
Although Peeper and Kiwi don’t watch the debates or see attack ads, they will still be directly impacted by whatever happens after November 8. That’s one big reason why I voted, I voted early (like President Obama urges us to do) and I voted to make a difference.
I voted for freedom from sexual violence
There’s one positive outcome about the video of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault and his dismissal of the video as “locker room talk” and “one of those things”: His casual brush-off of sexual assault has sparked a nationwide conversation about violence against women, our country’s widespread problem of sexual violence and the assumption that talk is just talk.
Clearly, men are doing much more than talking, inside and outside the locker room.
One in every six women in the United States has been victim of rape or attempted rape, according to the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN. And the majority of sexual assault victims are younger than 30.
That scares the hell out of me.
I want to protect my daughters. I want to shield them from unwanted advances. I want to insulate them against the catcalls, the dirty comments, the leering eyes they’ll be subjected to for just walking down the street. I want to guarantee that a stranger or coworker or new boyfriend won’t force himself on them.
But I can’t.
But I can vote.
I voted for breaking the glass ceiling
I’m not only voting against things and people this year, although there’s plenty to rally against. I’m also voting for role models for my daughter.
If Hillary Clinton is elected president, she will make history as the first female president. That matters.
And the effects of seeing a woman in the White House—and other female leaders from city council to the Senate—are worth celebrating.
For example, having female role models in positions of power significantly boosts girls’ career aspirations and commitment to education, shows a study in the journal Science.
Having accomplished female role models who excel in the same field improves young women’s self-esteem, write researchers in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly.
And the presence—even if it’s just a poster on the wall—of strong women in positions of power helped young women in an experiment perform better when giving a speech, shows research from The Journal of Experimental Psychology. (HRC was one of the faces on a poster that led to markedly better speeches; that was well before her bid for president.)
Hillary Clinton in the White House will inspire an entire generation of girls, mine included, to be passionate and unabashedly strong leaders.
As Clinton said in her speech to the Democratic National Contention:
“If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say: I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.” -Hillary Clinton
I voted for my daughters and their opportunities
I have no idea if Peeper or Kiwi will have any political aspirations. (Although a Peeper-Kiwi presidential ticket has a nice ring to it!) Regardless of what they want to be when they grow up, though, the 2016 election has far-reaching repercussions on their lives; that’s why I voted for my daughters—and my conscience.
Will our country be led by someone who belittles women, makes fun of their bodies and apparently believes he can do anything to them because he’s famous?
Not if I can help it.
I know that who sits in the Oval Office doesn’t dictate our country’s attitude toward women. But having a strong woman as president, one who has spent her career working to help girls, women and families, will be a step in the right direction for our country.
It’s a step toward gender equality and narrowing the pay gap. It’s a step toward treating women as people and not objects. It’s a step toward showing girls that they can follow their dreams rather than just paying lip service to the Barbie-ized phrase that “girls can do anything.”
In the 2016 election, I voted for my daughters. What will you vote for?