I’ve spent the last six weeks basically at home trying to recover from my latest run in with my chronic conditions and a new condition (because physically my body hates me) which has left me with an enormous amount of time on my hands. Rather than waste it watching UK daytime TV, I decided to watch the unfolding drama of the 2016 U.S Election via YouTube.
It’s a historic election with the first female presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on one hand, and Donald Trump on the other. And there is probably a hundred blog posts which detail the twists and turns of this election with its scandals and its stresses already so that really isn’t my focus of this post.
What is my focus is the women who I have noticed and admired during this election campaign.
Michelle Obama: The current First Lady of America. Intelligent, warm, funny and stylish. She is a class act. In every speech I have seen President Obama give where he mentions her, his respect and love for her is visibly apparent. And when she speaks, she demonstrates a poise, a way to comport yourself as a woman, as a strong woman which is admirable and aspirational.
In all honesty I have no idea what her contributions have been during her time as First Lady. What I do know is that the speech she gave in response to the revelation of Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood video (where he was recorded talking about immediately beginning to kiss women, about getting away with it because he was a star, about grabbing a woman’s body)…that speech was nothing short of epic.
Most women at some point encounter the disrespectful man who stares a little too long at her breasts, or legs, or bum. They encounter men who won’t take no for an answer in a bar, a club or at an office party. They encounter men who think they are entitled to take what they want from a woman without consent because they believe there is a power differential which allows them to take what they want; to use women, to consider them as less than a man and therefore free game.
And Michelle Obama’s speech captured exactly what I felt about the video, about the predatory behaviour women deal with and reminded us all very sharply about why it is not OK.
Ana Navarro: American Republican strategist and contributor on CNN panels. Feisty, fierce and formidable. Her biting wit and wonderfully tell-it-how-it-is bluntness have been a real highlight for me. I think we’d disagree about a great deal of policy but I admire how she has handled herself in some of the most contentious panel discussions where Trump surrogates have attempted the most bizarre justifications and spin for his behaviour and actions.
Samantha Bee: Host of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the commentary from the comedy/talk shows arena (Seth Meyers, John Oliver, James Corden and Stephen Colbert) but she holds her own amongst the crowd. For me she picked up one of the stand-out moments in the third debate by pointing out Hillary’s authenticity and sincerity at making the statement that government has absolutely no place in telling a woman what they can do with their bodies.
Jedediah Bila: One of the hosts of American TV show The View. Again, politically we’re probably on opposite sides of a lot of policy, but I find she talks a lot of just plain old common sense; her arguments are well-constructed; they’re practical; she shows a great moral core – she comes across as someone who lives her values. Outside of the political discussions, she just comes across as someone who would be a fun friend, a great person to share a drink at a bar and talk about the world with.
Megyn Kelly: Host of The Kelly File. Another person with whom I probably don’t share much political agreement but I admire her journalism. Regardless of network, she has been fair in her coverage; poised, sensible and intelligent in her commentary. Her response to Newt Gingrich remains one of my favourite moments of the campaign.
Hillary Clinton: She’s not perfect but actually she’s more admirable because of that. If society and women’s equality had moved faster, she would have been and arguably should have already been president instead of her husband back in the ’90s. I hope the U.S. gives the chance to become their first female President. I admire her on many levels; I admire her service, her intelligence, and I admire her fortitude. She has continued despite the haters and the misogyny; despite the double standards which have meant like many women she has had to achieve twice as much and demonstrate over and above the required skillset to gain her place and make her case. Whether she wins or not, she deserves plaudits for making the attempt and making it possible for the next woman to stand up and be counted.
So, that’s my list of admirable women. If I had a dinner party and could invite who I wanted right now, this would be my dream guest-list.