Lisa Borders is the author of two novels, The Fifty-First State (Engine Books, 2013) and Cloud Cuckoo Land, the winner of River City Publishing’s Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Cloud Cuckoo Land also received fiction honors in the 2003 Massachusetts Book Awards. Lisa lives in the Boston area and teaches at Grub Street, where she leads the Novel Generator program. Find out more about her work at www.lisaborders.com.
On Hope and Hillary
by Lisa Borders
All of my life, I have been told I talked too much, too loudly, had too many opinions and should keep them to myself. The grammar school bullies taunted me for being “smart” and using “big words” – while the boy who was my chief academic rival was popular, admired.
In almost every job I’ve ever had, I’ve been told at some point that I came on too strong, or was too aggressive, or too emotional. I’ve been accused of not being a team player because I advocated for myself the way a man would. It wears us out, the jockeying and calculating, the attempts to calibrate what percentage of a woman’s thoughts and ideas men (and sometimes, sadly, other women) will tolerate our sharing.
Maybe that’s why I was crying when I saw Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. Because I’ve watched her go through everything I’ve gone through – and then some. Every hateful thing that’s been said of her has registered to me as a personal attack. I’m not saying she’s immune to critique because she’s female; she’s far from perfect, just like every other politician. I’m talking about the level of vitriol, the nastiness towards her. It’s an exaggerated version of what we women all deal with on a smaller scale, every damn day.
The world felt like it shifted a little this week – for the better. What a surprising thing, to feel a sliver of hope in such a bitter time.