The latest criticism against HRC is that she is, in comparison with Edwards and Obama, the establishment candidate. She has been there, she has done it all before (they have turned her ‘experience’ argument against her). America’s still the same; it hasn’t changed. So she won’t be able to change it in virtue of not having changed it so far. This charge is, obviously, the result of Hillary being Bill’s wife. She is history, because she belongs to Bill’s ‘90s in virtue of having been the first lady. So while the problem does not seem to be her being a woman, it still is her being a wife; the last Democratic President’s wife. It would have been different, those people criticizing her will concede, if she had been any other woman; if she only weren’t Bill’s wife, then she could have been elected despite her being a woman.
So America, according to these people, would be ready for a woman; but only for a new woman. It’s not ready for an old woman, a wife. Let’s get this right: the problem is obviously not, in itself, that Hillary is married: had she been married to someone else, she could have still been a new woman, a woman for change. Because, as far as politics would have been concerned, she then would not have been a wife. The problem is that she is married to the past. So Hillary isn’t just married – that would have been fine. She is politically married: she is a political wife, not just a wife. Worse: the implicit accusation is that she is only there – in it with a chance – because she is Bill’s wife.
So far, this is all very truistic. But it underestimates the gender – and therefore power – revolution represented by a woman in charge of the world. What would it mean? Why would it be so significant? Because it would be the ultimate liberation: the woman liberation movement will have finally completed its journey only when a woman will have taken the world’s top job. No woman will ever be fully liberated until it is demonstrated that a woman can take (and hold) the top job. That, and only that, will be mission accomplished for the woman liberation movement, and aging feminists will finally be able to go back to knitting.
But where did that journey of liberation began? It began with marriage: it began with making marriage an equal, consensual, free relationship (as free as love allows, that is). The journey began with liberating wives from their husbands. It has been wives who have always symbolized the exploited woman. Wives bending on the sink to wash dishes. Wives bending on their children to tie their shoelaces. Wives bending for their husbands. It is first and foremost through marriage that women have been exploited: so the exploited woman just is the wife.
And that’s why liberation will be complete only when we elect a wife. But, as we said, electing any wife will be, politically, just like electing a woman. We must elect someone who is a wife even from a political point of view; we must elect HRC. So that she can finally, as President, shed that ‘C’ and be just her own autonomous self: President Rodham. Only when we will have liberated the first lady from the President we will have achieved the full liberation of women, of all women (at least potentially). Electing any other wife would be electing a liberated woman. It is only by electing the wife that we will have achieved liberation; because, paradoxically, Hillary (being, necessarily, one of the most liberated women on earth) isn’t yet liberated because she has not yet been liberated from her husband, the President. It is only by becoming President herself – President Rodham, not President Clinton – that she will finally liberate herself.
That’s why, if the election of the first woman president must be the ultimate liberation, then we must elect the wife, the first lady. Once the fist lady liberates herself, then any woman can.