Just Not THAT Woman

My oldest two kids can’t come to France. With few exceptions, France is not issuing visitor visas to people in the U.S. because the virus is still raging out of control in the States. I miss Maude and Ralph so much it hurts. I don’t know when I’ll get to see them again in person. Will we get to be together for Christmas? Is there a country that is accepting American passports where we can all meet up?

I am mostly able to remain grateful. My kids are safe and healthy. I can talk with them and see their faces on FaceTimes and Hangouts. Though sometimes I’m really angry. The photo at top, taken a couple of weeks ago, is missing two people.

This is one of those times where it’s very clear how much an election matters. If HRC was president right now, my kids would be with me on a family trip we planned a year ago to celebrate our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary.

But a missed vacation is nothing really. Much more important: If HRC was president, 150,000+ families wouldn’t be reeling from covid deaths. Yes, there would still have been lots of deaths, but nothing close to 150,000 and counting.

If HRC was president, the U.S. would have had a serious nationwide lockdown, and a careful reopening. Which means teachers and students wouldn’t be risking their lives this month because the virus would be under control.

But HRC is not the president, because an embarrassing number of people weren’t willing to vote for a woman. Sure, they tell themselves it was her politics, but if you have a conversation with them, get past the non-scandals of “but her email” and “bengazi”, and dig just a tiny bit deeper, it’s almost never about politics and almost always about sexism and misogyny.

Obviously I have no idea what would really be happening if HRC was president. She’s had four years mostly out of the public life, and the right still hates her so deeply, and have convinced themselves so thoroughly that she’s part of some Q-fantasy, that perhaps they would have assassinated her.

But it’s easy to look at countries who have leaders who are experienced, compassionate, and intelligent, and imagine what kind of excellent leader HRC would make in a pandemic.

This week a woman will be announced for VP. She will be torn apart. People will say: We’d be fine with a women, just not THAT woman.

I remember how they said: I can’t vote for Hillary, but if Warren was running, I would totally vote for her. And then Warren ran, and they said: I can’t vote for Warren, but it’s not because she’s a woman; if a different woman was running, then I would definitely support her.

I admit, I am dreading watching this VP candidate be subjected to every possible double standard. Anyone else? How are you feeling about the election these days? Have you double checked you are registered to vote? Will you be mailing your vote? Taking your ballot to an official drop-off point? Or are you planning to vote at a polling place?

P.S. — If you’re interested and healthy, I’ve heard more poll workers are needed this year.

48 thoughts on “Just Not THAT Woman”

  1. Hi Gabby! I’m so sorry to think of you still not being able to reunite with two of your kids – just one more heartbreaking aspect of this year. Even though my kids are so young, t’s hard for me to imagine.

  2. The bungled response to the virus in the US is appalling, and I’m sorry that, among other more tragic consequences, this government ineptitude is keeping your family apart. That’s hard.

    I’m anxiously awaiting Biden’s VP pick. I’m not over the moon about him by any stretch so I’m hopeful his VP will be someone who gets me a little more fired up about this ticket (not that I won’t be voting Democrat no matter who he selects). And, yes, I think there will be an enormous amount of misogynistic backlash, possibly coupled with all kinds of racism, but maybe it will be muted somewhat since she won’t be at the top of the ticket?

    The next few months are chock full of anxiety for me. I’m uncertain what’s happening with my job, my would-be-college-sophomore daughter is doing online learning from home rather than being on campus, there’s the election, and there’s still the coronavirus. Ugh!

    1. Chock full of anxiety is a good way of putting it. And college right now is so discouraging. This is Maude’s senior year at Berkeley and she got a great apartment near campus, but she’ll rarely if ever set foot on campus. (Should we have encouraged her to find an apartment in some little, inexpensive town somewhere else instead? Who knows.)

  3. I was just thinking about you as we are moving to England for grad school in a few weeks. When we initially anticipated this move we thought we might head back to the states for Christmas or have family visit us throughout the year but with COVID, that doesn’t seem likely to happen. But England could be a destination for your family. You just have to self isolate for 14 days with your family. So perhaps you’d be able to get an Airbnb and bunk up with your crew during the holidays? Hope you can see them somehow soon!

  4. I was just reading an article on NPR yesterday about New Zealand being 101 days community-spread-free, and I got pretty angry thinking about what life could have been if we had elected HRC instead. I am so sorry you’re not able to see your kids. I hope you can find a place to meet up soon. This is hard. We all have things to be grateful for, but plain and simple, it’s still hard.

  5. What I find so surprising and sad and makes me so angry is that so many women won’t vote for a woman. Women can be actually harsher than men in regards to judging the female candidates in regards to their feminism, looks, intelligence, capabilities and quite frankly whatever they can hone in on. Yet they give men a pass when they vote for them. Female candidates are always “just not …” when it is time to pull the lever.

  6. I don’t have it in me to write a coherent paragraph, so bullet points it is.

    -I do wonder what things would be like if Clinton was president. My guess is that the federal response would have been better and there would be fewer deaths, but any mistakes (like the CDC test) would have been slammed so hard by the right, and anti-maskers would be even more vociferous.

    -There was an article (NYT maybe?) about how the female VP is just a token, a prize for women for being such good girls. Here you go, a lady on the ticket, just not where it matters.

    -That said, I am looking forward to the VP debate.With Pence’s issues with women other than his wife, he is lucky they probably won’t be allowed to shake hands.

    1. I’m with you on bullet points…

      – Except many of those mistakes would never have been made. The pandemic response Obama and Biden worked so hard on would have gone into affect we could have possibly seen a response more like the Ebola outbreak where Covid hardly touched our shores. We’d have been MONTHS in front of the outbreak instead of trailing behind the rest of the world. We’d have worked with China and WHO on the test rather than slamming the door in their faces and insisting we’d do it better on our own.

      – Sort of? I’m sad to see “just another old white man” as the nom, but the truth is Biden IS another old man. The VP position here has significant potential to become President. And honestly, at this point, if it takes a token prize to get our damn foot in the door so we can slam that sucker wide open, I’ll take what I can get.

      – The debates will be so interesting this year! I admit to being one who did not follow or care for politics much before 2008. (I’m An Olde so I have no excuse beyond my privilege.) But the last 6 years have really opened my eyes to the nuance of politics.

  7. Of course we don’t know exactly how things would have played out differently with HRC – but it’s a pretty good bet that the pandemic protocol would have been used – that factories would have immediately begun producing PPE – and that Fauci wouldn’t have to fight her for the spotlight. I am also so worried about the woman who is named VP – when I think about the fact that Dr. Fauci’s family receives death threats – I cannot imagine what her life will become. But I think we all have a responsibility to set our faces and move forward – it’s not an Uber, it’s a city bus and right now we have to get the heck out of where we are. This I do know, Biden could choose my twenty-one year old daughter and she would still be a thousand times better than what we have. We have a responsibility to our country to take it back – I confess that I was on auto-pilot for too long and didn’t pay enough attention – but I won’t ever do that again. We have people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and so many more who truly do love this country and are willing to work tirelessly for change and I have to be willing to also.

  8. In 2016, the pain was so searing that we hate women so much we would elect the worst person possible. It is still too dispiriting.

  9. I work for CDC. If HRC were president, we would be able to DO OUR JOBS without being constantly undermined. And we’d have a CDC director with some kind of backbone. I’m pulling hard for Stacey Abrams as VP, but honestly, any of the women I’ve heard named as contenders would be great–and hopefully this sets them up to run in 4 years. I’m terrified about the coming months and all the dirty tricks the incumbent could pull to squeak out a “win.” Holding my breath and crossing all of my fingers.

    1. LK – Big thanks for all you and your fellow CDC staffers are doing under incredibly difficult circumstances. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for you.

    2. Thank you for the work you do, LK! Despite the administration’s efforts to minimize the CDC, you remain a trusted source of information for those of us who respect science. It’s CRAZY that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not been able to play a larger role in dealing with the pandemic. That’s your purpose!!

  10. I truly despair that we will have a free election. The next few months will be brutal for Biden, his VP pick, and the entire country. Will many people even be able to vote? The Covid pandemic debacle and BLM movement have shown that there are so many good people in this country, but there are also so many selfish and ignorant people. Conscientious Americans used to say “This is not who we are.”

    Well, I guess we will find out who we really are.

  11. I’m with you on all of these thoughts. I don’t have a particular potential nominee I’m partial to (all the names that have been thrown around have qualities I can get behind). But beyond VP, I hope Biden takes his cues from Obama and FILLS his administration with smart, strong, ambitious women. Attorney General, Secretary of State, Chief of Staff, and on and on.

    Three other things of note on the topic of politics…

    1. If you aren’t listening to the Pantsuit Politics podcast, I can’t recommend it enough. Their July series “How to Be a Citizen” is critical listening for everyone in the US. Two intelligent, witty, thoughtful women, one from each side of the aisle, come together to talk about politics and the state of our nation with nuance and grace. (Their other podcast, Nuanced Nation, is also worth giving a listen.)

    2. Don’t forget your local politics! We all focus on Congress and the Presidency as if they are the main function of government. But most of the decisions that affect your day to day life occur at the state or local level. Ask questions, learn about the candidates and the issues. Make informed voter choices at ALL levels! And if you’re inspired – get out and get involved. Run for office even! The more women and minorities we have at all levels of government, the sooner it will be normalized and no longer “just not that one…”

    3. I said this on your instagram post, but I’ll say it again. We the people need to stand up and take our democracy back. There is no incentive for politicians to lead this. We the citizens must do the work. We need to create state level independent committees to create districts and remove gerrymandering. We need to overhaul election campaign funding and get the super lobbyists out of Washington so our representatives represent us again. We need to push for ranked ballots, forcing candidates to run fair, non-attack campaigns and allowing 3rd parties a chance (no more “throwing away your vote”!). We need to deal with the fact that 435 people in the House is not what our founding fathers envisioned, makes it impossible for our representatives to do the job of actually representing their constituents, and recognize there are ways to expand representation to make it the way it should be.

    And finally, we need to get rid of the electoral college. It was created as a preventative measure against the “ignorant masses” but has been hamstrung by the Supreme Court and states and it’s time for it to go. If Congress truly represented the people of their state/district, then the President should be chosen by popular vote. Checks and balances are what this system was designed on and the lack of growth in the system is preventing that from happening and pigeon holing us into two buckets that only fit a very select few. We are a much larger, much more diverse country than we were two hundred years ago. Our government should be as well. The founding fathers set up the means for our government to grow with its citizens. We need to act on it.

    1. So much in this comment I love.

      Yes to ranked voting! Yes to getting rid of the electoral college! Yes to reorganizing the House so it’s representative of the nation! Yes to stopping gerrymandering! Yes to overhauling campaign finances! There are so many good and smart and practical things we could do that could get bi-partisan support.

      1. Yes LOCAL LOCAL LOCAL! So SO SO important — actually all local politics will matter even more than national to your day to day life. Get involved locally and help support nationally.

  12. Hej, igen! :-)

    Just had a look at the original source. If you and Ben are EEA citizens (?) it might work for your children to come here? As I said, I am not sure.
    Then again, maybe it would work after August 31st?

    Wishing you all the best –

    1. So kind of you to think of this, Randi. Unfortunately, we are not EU citizens, we just have a long-stay visitor visa for France. We’ve been counseled not to leave the Schengen area, or ideally, not even leave France. But of course all of this changes month to month, so who knows what will be allowed next.

      We have looked into every possible option and for now, it’s not looking good.

  13. I am so, so nervous about how this election will go. I have the same fears you do and keep coming back to the quote “She’s electable if you f—ing vote for her”. I have had the thought “imagine if Hillary was President during this” so many times I’ve lost count. Our country is an SNL skit with no end it sight.

    I live in Memphis, a blue dot in a sea of red, but I’ve seen so much division in the city because of the upcoming election and it hurts. Tennessee’s Supreme Court said last week that COVID fears are not an acceptable excuse to request a mail-in ballot for November which is infuriating. Working really hard to find hope right now.

  14. I will be casting my ballot by mail, as I have in every single election for the past 13 years. This whole “controversy” around mail-in ballots boggles my mind (as do so many other things these days) although I know there are so many politics involved with it (which is infuriating). While we certainly have our fair share of problems in Arizona, we do have a permanent early voting list which I put myself on when I became a mom. It is easy, convenient, and allows me to vote whenever I want from my kitchen table. I think we should all have the option to vote by mail and should not have to give any reason at all for our choice, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

    P.S. It breaks my heart to think of families like yours and parents like you unable to see your kids (and your kids unable to see their parents and siblings). I really, really hope you can figure something out soon.

    1. This year, my ballot will be emailed to me, and then I can either mail it or fax. I have been planning on mailing it — I don’t think I’ve faxed anything in a decade or more — but maybe tracking down a fax service is the way to go. Might be more reliable than mail. I’m guessing there’s some sort of online fax service available. I need to look into it.

      1. sorry it’s in frenchm but: (efax)

  15. Our family (with three young kiddos) is in Canada. The rest in the US. I have no idea when I’ll get to see any of them next. Breaks my heart every day. I feel you.

  16. I feel your pain. I am so sorry you are not able to see your kids and that they are missing out on so much.

    I am in Albania, which does allow for travel between the US & Albania, but we are not going anywhere and don’t know when we will able to visit family back home. It is so frustrating. We also rely on the USPS to stay in touch with family and get some of the things we need for our family that can’t be found here but that’s out too now thanks to the President. I am so frustrated with everything. I really wish HRC was elected. I really wish Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or any of the (democrat) women who ran were our candidate right now.

  17. Kamala! I’m excited-I know she’s not perfect, but she checks a lot of the boxes that are important to me. I am anxiously awaiting November. I never doubted that HRC would win-it was inconceivable to me that we could elect that buffoon who is even more awful than anything I envisaged. I hope you’re able to reunite with your kids soon-ugh. My parents (healthy 86 and 80 years old) are on the opposite coast, and it is breaking my heart that I have no idea when we’ll be able to safely reunite with them. I get angry all of the time that because of Trump we are in this horrible situation that is so much worse than it needed to be.

  18. It’s important to remember that the majority of people who voted, chose Hillary. But the election WAS rigged in Trump’s favor. The (Republican-led) Senate Investigative Committee confirmed it. Unfortunately, because it *is* Republican-led, there have been no repercussions, and it’s being allowed to happen again – even encouraged – in 2020. We have to get everyone we know to vote Blue. The only way to guarantee our win is if people vote in numbers so large, they can’t be hacked.

  19. I guess maybe I’m just jealous (is jealousy a stage of grief?!) but while I agree with everything you have said, I just can’t get over how protected you are in France. It would be terrible to not be able to see my children, of course, but meanwhile, the real dilemmas in (a red state in) the US look more like: deciding between schooling/likely risking a serious and potentially life altering disease, or quitting my career. Standing up to the short sighted decisions my work management is making about in person meetings, trainings, masks in the office, etc, and potentially losing my job or at least my ability to do it effectively. Fighting back against physical threats and untruths leveled at my family because we own a restaurant that is loosely affiliated with the mayor who recently closed restaurants (requiring illogical connections I’m not going to make here) or letting the untruths stand and allow the drama to blow over.
    I value your opinion and take on life from France, but I sometimes feel like the urgency, scale and hopelessness we feel in the US is not quite understood.

    1. From France, I’m half mexican and part of my family, friends, colleagues are in Mexico, and I know we can’t fully understand the situation. And of course you should envy us; I am so sorry for you, friends, and my family in Mexico. Every time I hear someone french complain about France, I feel so frustrated and agry, because I know (though I can not fully understand), we have NOTHING to complain about. I know your anger is your political force. There will be a change. Keep the hope.

    2. “I sometimes feel like the urgency, scale and hopelessness we feel in the US is not quite understood.”

      I think you’re right, Anna. I’m seeing America through the lens of the my kids being there and watching them trying to make decisions about their future, and I’m seeing America through the lens of a business owner and wondering if/when I’ll be able to put on another conference, plus trying to figure how to keep paying employees if there are no events to put on. But still, it’s not even close to the same as being there.

      I think every American should be jealous of countries like France, where the pandemic has been managed as well as possible, and by-and-large we’re safe and can take the usual August “vacance” , and we’re not worried about the school year. It’s not fair to Americans. It didn’t have to be like this.

  20. I am so sorry for your family, Gabby. I know that this time will be forever a key moment in your children’s lives, and with the education they’ve received, they will use their frustration, sadness and anger to make something great and beautiful. Many thoughts of solidarity (I feel useless but just wanted to thank you for your writing and your commitment). It’s weird to be blog readers, but I know you are real, and I am real too, so many real thoughts your way. I’m sure you have many friends, but if ever you need help for anything, I live in Paris right now and speak English.

  21. I’m writing this after the VP announcement— I am pretty sure Kamala Harris can take whatever they throw at her. My sister is a lawyer (consumer safety— one of the good ones), and she watched her during one of the hearings she was involved with and thought, wow, that’s one hell of a prosecutor. :) And yes, HRC would have managed this with humility and a devotion to the greater good and, you know, SCIENCE.

  22. I am an American living in France and feel for you Gabby. We aren’t going to make it home to the US this year and it is horrible – but at some point we will be able to reunite with far away family. This has made me even angrier about the current border practices in the US, which forcibly and for no good reason separate families; and all of these desperate people who don’t even know where their loved ones are, let alone when they might see them next. Their situations have been made even worse by this pandemic.

    We are so grateful we are in France, where even though the system has flaws, the safety net is real and mostly functional. My husband was recently diagnosed with COVID and the state machinery that kicked in to do contact tracing, offer testing, help, etc, is phenomenal. The US can be that kind of country too! I want to have hope for November, and will vote, but I’m terribly afraid that reason won’t prevail, that everything that has been done do disenfranchise voters will succeed, and that we will have four more years of this administration. And if miraculously, Biden is elected, I’m not sure that there will be a smooth handover of power. So many supporters of the current administration are heavily armed and primed to believe that the world is rigged against them that I don’t know what they will do.

    Sorry about this being a bit of a disjointed rant – and I certainly hope that you find a way to see Maude and Ralph in person soon.

  23. I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that my anger (and it is just that, a seething anger) over the 2016 election will never fully go away. Even after Trump is out of office I will still harbor wild tufts of rage over the damage done to our country and its people. I live in Japan with my husband and baby who was born here in December and I hold Donald Trump personally responsible for the fact that my mother (who lives in the US) hasn’t met her grandchild yet.

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