A Woman President

A grandmother and granddaughter’s thoughts on Hillary Clinton

“I certainly thought I should live to see a woman president, but it didn’t ever seem as though it was going to happen until now,” says Jane Barowitz, 75, who summers on Peaks Island and lives in New York City.

“The world has Angela Merkel, Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir, and the new prime minister of England is a woman—and there are many more. Why are we messing around?” Jane asks. “It’s just ridiculous that we haven’t had a woman.”

The 2016 presidential election has been a major (and often heated) topic of conversation for months. That’s nothing new. But what is unique to this year’s discussion: our country’s first female presidential nominee.

It’s a reality that many older women thought they might never live to see. But for the younger generation—the tweens and teens and 20-somethings who are coming up in an America that is increasingly dedicated to equality at home, at work and in politics (although there’s certainly still plenty of work to be done)—the notion of a woman president might seem like no big deal.

Intrigued, I set out to explore how different generations of women within the same family—separated by almost seven decades—view the 2016 presidential race. I talked with Jane and her granddaughter, Phoebe Barowitz, an almost-8-year-old, about their thoughts on the election.

“There was never really a candidate who seemed as though she could beat the guys, frankly,” says Jane. “I’m delighted that she’s a woman and think that she is eminently qualified to be president.” This summer, Jane attended an anti-Trump/pro-Hillary demonstration in Maine and during primary season, made a sign saying, “I’d Vote for Hillary Even if She Was a Man.”

Phoebe hasn’t watched previous presidential debates, mainly because they were past her bedtime, she says. She thinks less about the fact that there is a woman candidate. “It’s not a big deal, but it’d be nice if she wins,” says Phoebe. “It would make me happy because it’s always been men.” Phoebe feels things will change if Donald Trump gets elected, and would be upset if “Mexicans are being kept out of America because of a wall.” Phoebe doesn’t feel that kids need to share the political views of parents or family, but she would like to see kids be given opportunities to vote in mock elections.

Jane says she dislikes the allegations and scandals surrounding Clinton. “However, I do think she’s been investigated left, right and center, up, down and sideways for the last 30 years, and they’ve come up with remarkably little. If—or when—she becomes president, what she’ll be concerned with is being a great president—and aware of her role as the first woman president and concerned with her legacy,” says Jane. “She’s been criticized if her voice is too high, or if her voice too low. And she’s remained remarkably dignified throughout.”

Caroline Losneck is a Maine-based documentarian, radio producer, and experimental installation artist. Her work is featured on Maine Public Radio, NPR, Marketplace and WMPG Community Radio. Her documentary film work has appeared in the New York Times and at film festivals around the country.

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