In the time it took the moderators the US presidential debate to shut down the last microphone, just over three hundred girls were born to parents in the United States. Those girls will grow up knowing that they can run for president.
And they will grow up knowing that they can be grabbed, degraded and assaulted.
They will grow up knowing that for some, their value is so little, their suffering can be used as fodder for a news cycle or two. They will grow up knowing that no matter how powerful you are, no matter how accomplished, your time in public life will come with a caustic excoriation of your sex, your sexuality and your appearance.
When Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech in the US Primary eight years ago, my then three year old sat on his American grandmother’s lap and watched. His grandmother told him that this was an important moment, because when she was his age no one could even imagine a woman running for president.
When Hillary Clinton received the nomination of the Democratic Party this summer, it was clear that the editors of several major US newspapers still couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea. They ran pictures of Bill Clinton instead.
When Donald Trump decided he needed to win the most recent US presidential debate, he attacked Bill Clinton. The contest now focused on which of the two men had committed greater violence against women.
This is what violence against women does. It tries to erase the person--the human suffering of the woman who endures and survives. It treats women and girls as things—things that can be grabbed, groped or raped. Things that can be used as political accessories and then discarded.
Things that can’t be president.
I will be watching the rest of this US election with my mother and my son. We will continue to watch a woman running for president. We will call her by her name. My son will also learn some hard lessons about the risks his sister will have to face, simply because she is a girl. But I am not turning away.
Hillary, I see you.