Women of the World: Honesty and resilience key to Hillary Clinton's success
Editor's Note: PokerStars Women provides an arena that allows women to comfortably enter the world of poker, a game traditionally dominated and influenced by men. Through the last few decades, women have become a force in the game, but it hasn't always been easy. This series - "Women of the World" - focuses on women outside of poker who have boldly stepped into positions conventionally reserved for men and, in doing so, helped pave a path toward greater gender equality in the world.
Hillary Clinton became the center of one of many scorching controversies in her career when, on the campaign trail in 1992 with husband Bill Clinton, she made the remark, "I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession." The candid remark ignited a firestorm of debate in the U.S. and added fuel to the fire in what was then called "the mommy wars." Mothers around the country debated whether Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, and others like her, would be better off if mothers stayed home instead of heading off to factories, offices, and boardrooms around the country in pursuit of a paycheck and professional fulfillment.
As a result, Hillary Clinton became a role model for many women who were trying to balance their professional lives with the demands of motherhood. At the same time, she became an equally controversial figure for women who believed that pursuing a demanding professional life was at the expense of their children and husbands. Clinton's "take no prisoners" style of discourse came off as condescending to many stay-at-home mothers at the time and offended conservatives who disliked Clinton's assertive manner.
The country eventually recovered from the shock of being reminded that many women, and especially well-educated ones like Clinton, had aspirations outside of supporting their husbands and being good mothers and homemakers. Her husband was elected President, and Hillary Clinton went on to offend many times over throughout Clinton's two terms in the White House. She seemed to be a lightning rod for criticism, as her outspoken opinions on matters of state, her fashion choices, and her hairstyles continued to antagonize conservatives and unite liberals.
Clinton's 1992 comment was characteristic of her honest make-no-excuses approach to life in the public eye, and she was called upon to use the same approach in 1998 in response to her husband's highly publicized affair with Monica Lewinsky. She steadfastly refused to "stay home and bake cookies," but when faced with the media frenzy of the Lewinsky affair, she decided take what some thought to be an old-fashioned approach and stay with her husband to support him throughout the ordeal.
Last year, the couple celebrated their 37th anniversary, and former President Clinton is her biggest supporter, with daughter Chelsea running a close second. The last two decades of success in her career and her daughter's seeming maturity and grace have lent support to Clinton's decision to follow her professional aspirations with no apparent damage to her daughter or their relationship.
After the completion of Bill Clinton's second term as President, it was Hillary's turn, and in 2000, she ran for a Senate seat representing New York and won. She was reelected in 2006 and then decided to make a run for the Democratic Presidential bid in 2008 against Barack Obama.
She galvanized women voters in the U.S., as they watched her mount a strong campaign and bring in impressive numbers, winning more delegates and primaries than any other previous female candidate. She eventually conceded the nomination to Obama after a close race and many heated debates that led observers to wonder if the gulf between them could ever be bridged so that they could work together. Obama surprised many by offering her the position of Secretary of State, and she accepted, eventually becoming widely acknowledged as a woman of conviction and determination in one of the most challenging positions in the U.S. government. In addition, her relentless travel schedule earned her the designation of being the most widely traveled Secretary of State in history.
Citing health concerns and exhaustion, she relinquished her role as Secretary of State in February, and her plans for the future are officially undetermined.
It is widely anticipated, however, that she will make a bid for the Presidency in 2016 and if recent polls are any indication, Clinton's forthright approach has served her well. She is currently considered to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 if she decides to run. She has received over a million dollars in donations with the election still three years off and her candidacy still unannounced. The social media campaign has begun, though, and the Facebook page "Ready for Hillary"
has gathered over 500,000 fans.
Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be a person who refuses to try to conform to preconceived ideas or to mold herself into a semblance of what others expect her to be. This is sure to confound and antagonize many as she pursues what she considers the best role for her talents and experience in the years to come. But whatever she decides to do, she's sure to do it on her own terms. Her customary hard truths and honesty will serve her well in those pursuits and give all of us here in the U.S. and around the world much to talk about and admire.