Princess: We’ve come a long way, baby. Really?
The Aspen Princess
On Election Day in 2008, we were somewhere between Miami and Brazil when the stewardess woke us up to inform us Barack Obama had won the election. We all cheered and hugged and then she served us a free bottle of Champagne, even though it was the middle of the night and we were miles between here and there.
We were on our way to Catherine’s wedding, and after over 30 hours of travel and a trip that began with Dina forgetting her wallet in the bathroom at a gas station on the way to the Denver airport, we arrived in a tiny, remote fishing village four hours north of Salvador surrounded by miles and miles of pristine beaches. There were no tourists and certainly no other Americans.
We were thousands of miles from home in the middle of nowhere but still, people knew who President Obama was.
Leave it to Catherine to lead us to the edge of the Earth, a place so hard to get to that there was no one else like us there. People would come up to us and start chattering away in Portuguese, long after it was clear we didn’t speak their language. We had many conversations like that, communicating in other ways, in human ways.
In bigger towns and in the city, Obama posters were sold on the streets. But wherever we went, people would yell “Obama!” and smile and wave, or even cheer, lifting their fists in the air in victory. It was a time of hope, and a time that felt modern and progressive and evolved.
Electing our first black president was cause for celebration around the world. The same cannot be said about the first woman nominee.
I don’t care which side you’re on. No one likes Hillary. Since she’s been nominated it’s like the whole world wants to put her on trial. People say she’s not trustworthy. She’s not warm. She’s too rehearsed. She’s not likable. Forget about her experience, her intelligence, her resilience and her strength.
Newsflash: No one likes her because she’s a powerful woman.
A powerful woman is a bitch.
A powerful woman is not to be trusted.
A powerful woman became powerful by lying or cheating or sleeping her way to the top.
Meanwhile, apparently a man can behave any way he pleases. He can break the rules. He can avoid paying taxes. He can be a sexual predator. He can insult just about everyone publicly, including blacks, Muslims, disabled people, women, even babies. He can have no qualifications whatsoever and no experience but still be considered for the job.
He’s still a better choice than her.
I’ve experienced this in my own career.
I was super lucky to have landed a job at a big snowboarding magazine after college and later, at a top surf magazine. Both were located in Southern California, which was the hotbed of the surf, skate and snowboard industries. Coming from the mountains where boys and girls play together outside, I had no idea what I was in for.
I had no idea that men would not look at me favorably for being smart, funny, adventurous or athletic. I had no idea that the values I’d been raised with back East or acquired during college in Boulder would be foreign there. I had no idea that unless I lost 20 pounds, grew 6 inches and got a boob job that the men I’d be surrounded with would have no interest in me.
I thought maybe I could earn their respect if I could keep up with them on the mountain, in the water and at the bar. After all, I was the one who got to travel with them, who got to fly to faraway places and have crazy adventures and share their wild experiences while their wives and girlfriends stayed at home. I had access to things that only members of the media get, to helicopter rides and snowcat lodges, free meals and five-star hotels.
But the opposite happened: I became untouchable. No matter what I did I was not a sister, not a girlfriend, not a wife.
There I was on the edge, living in this rock-star lifestyle, seeing the world, partying with hot pro athletes, snowboarding powder and traveling to the best mountains in the word except for one thing: instead of feeling confident and accomplished, I often felt exposed, defenseless, vulnerable, insecure and utterly alone.
Over the years, I would sit idly by and watch my male colleagues get promoted over me, even when they weren’t college educated, even when they’re weren’t talented, and in one instance, even when he couldn’t even snowboard half as well as me.
During my tenure in So Cal, I was told to “get off my feminist soapbox” when I objected to a particularly racy Reef Brazil ad. I was accused of being jealous when I insisted that photos of a half-naked model didn’t belong in the feature well of a women’s surf magazine. I was gently informed by my boss that he couldn’t surf with me after work anymore because it was “making the boys suspicious that something more was going on,” when it wasn’t.
So I guess it really bothers me that this entire election hasn’t been about the issues or about policy or even politics, but a woman who has been put on trial: whose character, appeal and trustworthiness has been brought into question over and over again even though she’s somehow survived the past 30 years without getting burned at the stake, ascending the ranks to senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate.
I don’t care if you agree with her politics. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal.
What I do care about is that apparently we are all still so painfully sexist. Progress has gone in reverse — we are back in the Dark Ages.
The Princess is happy she has a son. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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