votesI started November 8th so hopeful. The polls were a comfortable 78. I wore my new berry colored pantsuit purchased especially for the election. I even wore my suffragette sash to work. The last face I saw before stepping into my office was a young woman in her 20’s who gave me a thumbs up and that knowing smile that said, I’m with her too! Every woman I met had a gleam in her eye and a spring in her step. There was an estrogen electricity in the air. We were unbeatable.

Until we were not.

As a 50-year-old woman and surgeon I have felt the oppressive weight of misogyny my whole life. In medical school. In residency. In the 11 years that I fought to get the same salary as my male peers. And even from my mother who felt being a doctor might be too hard.

I cannot remember a time when I have not railed against the patriarchy. At best I am blunt, but often it is shrill or unstable because that’s what they call women who have new ideas or who speak up. The men are disruptive innovators who think outside the box. At one point in my career a male colleague and I both complained about the same problem. He had thoughtful input and was thanked for his concerns which were promptly taken under consideration while I was unstable and it was suggested that I seek antidepressants.

But Hillary? She was calm and cool. She knew the game better than the men and she was twice a smart. Where I would have raged against the mediocrity and the petty behaviors of those who pursued her like gadflies she was graceful and simply more prepared than every single one of her detractors. We didn’t just ask her to prove herself to bumbling men on committees who could only lift themselves up by pushing her down she had to prove herself on the public stage more times than any male politician and do it through the distorted lens of patriarchy.

Each time the press cried e-mail I heard female. Clinton had a likeability problem, who cared that Trump bragged about competitive genitalia groping? Men who made money giving speeches were savvy, she was crooked. Men and women spewed bile about her e-mail server not understanding a thing about it. They ranted about her transcripts, but shrugged about Trump’s taxes. Clinton, the life long public servant, was dishonest and Trump, who stiffed many contractors, was a good businessman. Many articles had the truth buried deep in the eight paragraph, but this is the Internet so they might as well have been in Siberia.

And so I cried because it was rigged by the oldest double standard.

I cried because misogyny sells to both men and women.

I cried because the truth is a bore and we are post-factual.

I cried for Hillary because she deserved to be President more than any other candidate who has run for office in her lifetime.

I cried for myself because I longed to see a woman claim her rightful place as a world leader.

I cried because the policies offered by Trump are frightening.

I was ready to give up à la Garrison Keillor and start farming heirloom tomatoes. I have the privilege of a nice backyard. The privilege of a good job. The privilege of health insurance. The privilege that when stopped by the police I get a smile and gentle warning. I’m also menopausal (hard to call that one a privilege), so policies about contraception and abortion won’t kill me. In many ways I will be untouched by a Trump Presidency, but it’s not just about me. I want the whole world to be better not just my world. I want my patients to have the best health care possible. I want everyone else to be able to marry whomever they want as often as they want, although twice was enough for me. I want my kids to have clean air and dry land. I want everyone to have the choice to farm or not to farm heirloom tomatoes.

What lifted me up was looking at my suffragette sash laying discarded on the floor with my pantsuit. I thought about all the women who would have worn a similar sash while they endured beatings and jail and countless humiliations for simply attempting to vote. Their sashes would have been bloodied yet they still showed up. They knew they would be turned away or worse and yet they kept coming back. That glass ceiling required a lot of cracks.

Then I thought about the first woman who wanted to be a doctor and the second and the third. How many had to endure harassment and disppointment and at how many universities before one was accepted into medical school? And what about the first woman who wanted a college education? Or the first pilot? Or the first journalist? How many women and how many times for each glass ceiling?.

If women gave up the first time we smashed into a glass ceiling but didn’t break through I wouldn’t have voted and I wouldn’t be a doctor. We wouldn’t have female lawyers and astronauts and pilots and engineers and authors and bus drivers and firefighters and yes, politicians.

Glass ceilings are tough, but take heart my sisters because history tells us they all break eventually and they shatter faster when we share the burden.

Modern suffrage, the election of women not just to our highest office but to all levels of government, is our collective privilege. Pantsuits on and sashes up ladies because we are stronger together.

Join the Conversation


  1. I count myself lucky that I am from a country where women have autonomous rights with respect to birth control / abortion. A Trump presidency terrifies me, even though it doesn’t affect me directly, because it has the potential to illustrate just how far some people are willing to go to control women’s bodies and lives. In today’s supposedly enlightened age, this is not supposed to happen, yet he is seemingly rewarded for being so openly disrespectful to a woman and those she represents. Thanks for writing about Planned Parenthood in your blog. In solidarity with my fellow womenfolk in the US I made a very small contribution to PP.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful commentary. It saddens me greatly that this election went the way it did. But we DO have one bit of light. Four new Democratic women in Congress. Women of color and women of strength. So let’s look to them and try to remain hopeful despite this crushing defeat.
    I no longer personally need access to abortion or birth control but it is going to kill me when they overturn Roe next year. The protests and the clinic watch duties were there for me but it pains me to see the next generations of women beat down and controlled by their inability to make their own medical choices. And the fact I had MEN tell me it won’t be overturned AND they acted surprised to think it was an issue made me laugh bitterly.
    It will be interesting to see how long it will take before the Deplorables start having buyers remorse.

  3. Thanks, Dr. Jen. I can hardly get out of bed, but everything you are saying is absolutely correct and spot on. I will always long for that moment when Hillary won. And to be beaten by a misogynist is denigrating and awful. Not to mention that he will be be replacing Barack Obama. The orangeman will never be my president. I’ll wait four years for someone else. My POTUS is Barack Obama.

  4. This is so beautifully written, thank you for sharing it. I cried my eyes out listening to her concession speech yesterday… she has spent her whole life conceding, apologizing for things no man would have to apologize for. I often think back to the way Trump spoke to her on the debate stage. So abusive, demeaning, and condescending. I imagine that has been her reality more days of her life than not. More than anything I wish she could have been given this chance. Feels hard to move forward. I hope she knows what she has meant to many women in America.

  5. I’m a 68 year old man who is a life long Democrat. I have worked for Democratic causes all my life and I’ve never been as depressed and as disheartened as I have been since Tuesday evening. I fear for my country.

  6. Jen, you have never been shrill or unstable. You are one of the most positive, upbeat people I know. Carry on in your usual awesome way!

  7. I don’t swear usually. But it must be the effect of all the X-rated declarations of your new leader, I was using the F word all Wednesday. And I am not even in America.
    Pantsuit up. We, women elsewhere, will back you.

  8. Thank you so very much for all your beautiful words. So well written. I’m 54 and from Arkansas. Hillary Rodham spoke at my Girl’s State Convention in the summer of 1980 & I still recall most of her message. She was so inspiring to a group of high school senior girls.
    Yes, I’ve got my pantsuit on. It is my new battle. My voice. I, too, feel the estrogen electricity.
    The first few years of my career was as a journalist/feature writer in Little Rock when Bill was our governor. I miss them both. I went on to work in healthcare PR and then in higher education. In my life, I have had great successes and yet I have experienced such inequality, unfair treatment and, yes, I’ve been groped. Currently, I’m in South Florida and completely shocked at all the women supporting Trump. Like many of you, I cried many a tear this week.
    What can I do? What can we do? We must unite. I’m ready. I want to be that voice.
    Surely, my years of public relations and marketing can be put to use to change all hatred and inequality.

    1. Hi Francis, I’m a little confused.
      I too am shocked by the number of women supporting DT! Especially Latinas after all his vitriol about their heritage.
      However, when you say you miss Bill C, arn’t you shocked by his constant adultery ? He may be a political genius,but he is not a decent man.

  9. I wore head to toe back on Wednesday as I was felt I needed to grieve and even feel a bit sorry for myself. But, yesterday I walked into the office with my paint suit on, my head held high and energy to continue, as Hillary Clinton said, to fight for what is right. She made a huge crack on that ceiling, and soon it will be in pieces.

  10. So many things I can relate to… reading this nearly brought me to tears. Thank you for this article and all of your writings.

  11. All those reasons you cried, I cried with you. I’ve become more inspired after this election – like a fire has been lit inside of me. I’ve supported Hillary Clinton in this election, and I was lucky enough to go to one of her rallies. She truly is unforgettable. As a member of the LGBT+ community, I worry for myself, friends, family, and community. But I’m remaining strong. I’m doing my best. I need to volunteer more, reach out to those in need, and donate what I can to help organizations (like Planned Parenthood) stay strong. (new follower, btw) 🙂

  12. loved your story- very heartfelt by me as a 64 year old internist who has had so many of the same experiences as a woman…. unfortunately, i still run into young female resident’s (when discussing the need to band together) that they give no credit to that first or second female doctor and glibbly retort that they don’t need to thank anyone because they “did it on their own.”….. i feel that those who voted for T—p gave bunches of stupid reasoning for supporting him but i truly feel that their voter says more about them than that of the candidate… and it relates to their own serious shortcomings in basic humanity— which is why we are seeing a spate of hate crimes against women, minorities, Jews, gays and they welcome the days of reposting their girlie calendars freely, dusting off their swaztikas, embrace a return to internment camps and more…. i lived thru all that thru a long chu8nk of my life and had hoped that we were all past that….

  13. Thank you. I have fought misogyny for my entire adult life, approaching 50 years now. I am tired of fighting the same old things over and over again but you have given me the courage to pick up my sash again and carry on.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: