At age 7, I learned what Hillary and every other woman around the world saw this past week - if you're too good, you're disqualified.
In competitive swimming in Southwestern Ontario, there exists something called "sting times." Swimmers are broken down by age group, and the fastest one wins the race. Except if they "sting", or go too fast.
There are times set out for each race, and if the swimmer is faster than that time, they are automatically disqualified, and made to swim in the older age group at the next competition. They receive a ribbon that says "STING -- you're good but you swam too fast." If the first one to finish the race "stings," the one who came in second gets the gold medal.
Regional championship, age 7. I've won two of my races, and "stung" in another two. I still have enough points to win the championship, as long as I don't "sting" in my last race. My parents talk to me: "If you just swim faster than the other kids, you'll win the championship. If you do your best, you might "sting" and loose. It's up to you what you want to do." I swam a personal best, and lost the championship.
I grew up in a small town in Southwestern Ontario, in Canada. I was always well behaved, and smart. My parents encouraged me not to hide either of those things, but showing them was like a bull's eye on my forehead. Yes, there were boys who made fun of me, but the worst bullying came from other girls. I was told -- "don't pay any attention, they're just jealous". As an adult, I am learning the true meaning of that statement.
Hillary. You're good but you swam too fast.
I was incredibly excited about the prospect of a woman -- one who had worked hard her entire life, who is prepared, polished, informed and well-spoken -- to succeed. Over the course of the last week, I've realized that the hate we all thought existed only in the periphery of our society, is in fact its core.
When the result became clear, devastated and heartbroken with a sense of despair is what myself, and many others felt. But the first time I really cried was watching Hillary's concession speech. The grace, intelligence, kindness and leadership exhibited during that speech was presidential.
This week, in this election, I learned that as a woman in leadership, no matter how high you rise, you will always be just that -- a woman. If you're too soft, you're emotional and unstable, if you're too hard, you're cold and untrustworthy. As a society, we have not been able to see a balance between emotion and strength for women. And it's not just men who do not know how to react around a powerful woman, women are equally, if not more critical.
Some men bully and degrade women because they truly feel that they are superior - they believe they are smarter, stronger, and can do a better job than any woman. Women on the other hand, bully because they feel inferior. Men see other men's success as just that - their successes. Women see other women's success as their own failures. Voting for a woman president might mean many would need to face the reality that a woman can do anything that a man can do, making it impossible to use being a woman an excuse in their own lives, even subconsciously.
The women's rights movement has flourished this century, but despite that many feel having children, raising them, managing the household, etc...puts them at a disadvantage in their careers. Women need to take time off during pregnancy, and for maternity leave. No matter how much the father is involved, many still feel that at the end of the day, children are the woman's responsibility. And many use this to explain to themselves why they didn't get that job, that promotion, that account - "its because I'm not just working, I'm taking care of my family too".
And then comes along a woman who doesn't seem to be inhibited by her uterus. Someone who has a child, seems to be present in her life, but still achieves her own goals. Someone who has it "all together". And we feel threatened. There must be something wrong with her. Her husband is cheating on her, her children are badly behaved, she's overweight, her family doesn't eat organic free range meals from scratch, she sleep trained her kids, or she didn't, she had work done, or she's a liar. We as women cannot accept the fact that someone else was able to do what we were not - have "it all". Someone else seemingly achieving this is incongruent with our view of the world, and so it must not be true. There really is something wrong with her. We knew she was just pretending to have it all together. And secretly, deep down, we rejoice when that woman fails. Because that means we are good enough. The fact that we didn't achieve our goals in life is simply because we are a woman, rather than some intrinsic failing or decision on our part.
Women who voted against Hillary don't like her. They say she's untrustworthy. That she was an absent mother, she neglected her husband (and that's why he cheated on her), and she was too weak to leave him. She had to cut corners to get to where she is, her charitable foundation may do an incredible amount of good, but she raises money from questionable sources essentially by selling herself. If these things aren't true, then she, in every fundamental way, defies the secret curriculum of our lives.
Then comes along the most stereotypical male in politics in our generation. A man who had a TV show dedicated to people clamouring to be his understudy, firing them, pointing our their mistakes and their inadequacies -- reminding everyone that no one is as good as he is. In every way -- race, religion, sex, intelligence -- in his core, he believes he is the best.
He takes things when he wants them, women included. And we have a much easier time reconciling that caricature of a man with our belief system. This makes us feel that if we share some qualities with him, then we are better than others. He is successful, and I share something in common with him (male, white, etc..), therefore I could be successful too.
They see their strengths in him. They see their inadequacies in her.
What is different about the pro-Hillary women? I believe those who voted for her, and have come together in the wake of Trump's win, have accepted their own faults. They have been through trauma, hardship, and/or failures, and they have picked themselves up and soldiered on. They have seen their faults, and continue despite them.
They are heartened by the fact that a woman can be successful, rather than threatened by it. To become successful all that is needed is belief in your capabilities and a strong work ethic, to believe that you dictate your destiny.
Hillary -- you did not fail us -- women across the world. We failed ourselves. We were simply not strong enough to believe that you could truly exist. You're good, but you swam too fast. Polished speech, extensive experience, refined platform and calm temperament = disqualified.
We saw our own flaws in you, and didn't believe ourselves worthy. But we need to keep fighting, and now more than ever, Canada, and the world, need strong women to show the next generation that life isn't a zero-sum game.
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