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Dont tell Dad Im voting for Hillary: young women on sexism in the family

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As fathers issue warnings about Benghazi and Clintons pantsuits, millennial women balance political passions with hope for a drama-free Thanksgiving

My father is trying to educate me about the real Hillary Clinton, so he starts telling me about Vince Foster and then its Benghazi, again. Normally, Id deflect with a shrug and a sigh. But now, as he follows me into the family room, still ranting, I snap. Sure, Dad, Hillary got to all of those people all over the world with her laser eyes.

Like many millennial women who are excited about the prospect of electing the first female president in history, Ive tiptoed on the faultline between my political passions and my desire for a drama-free Thanksgiving. My father is decidedly less enthused about the prospect of her presidency and he lets me know it every time I go to my parents house. As a baby boomer who came of age when Don Drapers inherited the earth, he still cant grasp that our next commander-in-chief may wear a pantsuit.

My father raises the specter of Billary, says that Clinton already had her turn at running the country. He rants that she wont be tough enough on the terrorists. And he calls Trey Gowdy, the congressman who spearheaded the Benghazi hearings, my buddy, who must, at all costs, really stick it to Hillary.

Hes hardly alone in rejecting the first woman with a serious shot at the White House, just as I wasnt the only young woman tearing up the night Clinton accepted the nomination. Our dynamic plays out between fathers and daughters around dinner tables, over phone lines and in inboxes all over the country.

One woman from a pro-Clinton Facebook group says her father point-blank asked her if the country is really ready for a woman president. Other womens dads equate Bill Clintons wandering eye with Hillarys supposed failure as a human being if she cant even hold her own husbands interest, how can she captivate a country? Or sometimes, the dear-old-dads Facebook feeds are minefields of more coded sexism, old chestnuts about Clinton being too closed-off and cold; too dim to manage her personal email account; too mannish in her pantsuits; and, above all else, too shrill.

Some of these anti-Clinton fathers have always leaned rightwing, and are robustly (or reluctantly) backing Donald Trump; others tilt toward Gary Johnson, or are Bernie-or-busters but no matter whom these dads vote for, when they indulge in ugly anti-Clinton smears, they sound like Rush Limbaughs cronies to their disappointed daughters.

Several women I spoke to are taking a dont tell Dad approach to this election, citing a simple desire to come back home in peace (which is why some asked to remain anonymous), or belief that they wont change their fathers minds: Its possible to have more productive conversations with a dishwasher than with him, one woman said. Others, like Irina Gonzalez, fight back. I defend HRC and emphasize how much I cant wait to vote for her. Another lamented her dads paradoxical belief that cheating, Lying Hillary should show more heart.

One could argue that these Archie Bunker-esque curmudgeons cant imagine their baby girls ever dealing with catcalls or (God forbid) having a period so how could they understand that their Breitbart bon mots reflect the real biases their daughters confront every day?

For Farrah Parker, former executive director for the City of Los Angeles commission on women, these tensions are generational growing pains: Young people will always carry the burden of enlightening their families, especially if they have had diverse educational or professional experiences A young woman who supports Hillary can be unfairly portrayed as [questioning] her own family structure This can make for one long family dinner.

Even the women who keep mum at the kitchen table insist that their fathers disdain doesnt sway their support for Clinton. Im not ashamed of what I believe. Im on the right side of history, one woman told me. But Id rather skirt the truth every four years than not go home again.

Cindy Butor, 29, has caucused and canvassed for Clinton because she deeply believes in her, but it amuses me how irritated my dad would be if he knew. As a librarian, Butor is especially vexed by her father parroting misinformation about Clintons tenure as secretary of state and stance on gun control; shes doubled down on debating him, but sometimes, she resigns herself to live and let live: He is my dad, so I want to have a relationship with him.

Clintons famous pantsuits have been a source of consternation between Tabitha Clark, 31, and her uncle, the man who will walk her down the aisle at her wedding. Clarks uncle equates Bill Clintons roaming eye with Hillarys supposed failures as a human being; his takeaway is not to trust any woman who wears a pantsuit never mind that Clark wears pantsuits to her job. When she reminds him of this, he says that shes different, since shes not in politics. Hes actually very supportive of my life, except that Im a liberal, Clark jokes.

Another friend explains that her Hillary-hating father bought her tool sets as well as Barbies: My dad is a smart guy. When the subject doesnt involve politics, we can usually have a very civil and productive discussion.

Though its tempting to characterize the men of a certain age who mock Clinton as unilateral knuckle-draggers, many of them champion their own daughters ambitions. Parker suggests that anti-Clinton men also walk a fine line: theyre threatened by a woman from their era who may crack the glass ceiling of the White House, but deep down, [theyre comforted] knowing their child will be fine on her own.

When I was promoted to middle management at one of my first publishing jobs, my father gave me one piece of core advice to be tough, strong, and dont let them rook you cause youre young and female. Id like to tell him that toughness and strength are exactly what I admire about Hillary Clinton, that I see something of myself in her, something of the girl he taught to throw a punch, to not be rooked in boardrooms that even though he smears her for bloodlust and cowardice alike, in essence, he raised me to fight like hell for her.

Originally found athttp://www.theguardian.com/us