I've never met one single Hillary supporter who will vote for her only because she's a woman, and I caucused for Hillary. Where are these people?
I for one have a list of women I'd never vote for -- not because they are women, but because they're dangerous or incoherent. However I think they should be heard, no matter my disagreement with their political standpoints.
My student teaching experience was such a disaster (according to my supervising teacher) that I never went into classroom education, even though to this day I long to teach. (Didn't occur to me to redo student teaching, and my professors forgot to suggest it.) But I had one glorious lesson that I believe was a mic drop moment in my short-lived teaching career. It was a high school American history class in Harrisburg, South Dakota.
My class was exploring the early 1900s and one day I decided to riff on the famous blue eyes / brown eyes class lesson that had been developed by an Iowa teacher Jane Elliott in the 60s to teach about discrimination (see it for yourself: https://youtu.be/-pv8mCHbOrs).
In my classroom I had the girls sit on one side and the boys on the other. This didn't seem strange to the students because movement in the classroom was my teaching style. (Which drove crazy my supervising teacher and thus, presumably, one of the reasons he made sure I would never teach.)
Standing in front of the classroom as the teacher, I turned my body to the boys side of the room and engaged them only, completely ignoring the girls. My lessons tended to be interactive but when the girls raised their hands I did not call on them. I didn't look at them. As the hour moved on, some girls got frustrated, raising their arms higher and higher. Others gave up and looked down at their desks.
The boys and I continued to discuss the lesson and I gave them a lot of feedback on their points.
"Miss Mork why aren't you calling on the girls," one boy said, finally. Ironically, the only boy who saw through the bullshit was the very kid who gave me the most disciplinary problems throughout my student teaching experience. (He was the kid who noticed my beat up old car in the parking lot: "Miss Mork, you drive a reservation racer." A nod to the very real state of racism in the state of South Dakota.)
"That's beside the point," I responded, ignoring his response too, and kept moving forward with my questions and activities. He fumed.
The other boys didn't notice that I wasn't calling on the girls.
I was determined to not engage any of the girls until the final minute of the class, and I remember tension building. The trouble-maker-boy kept challenging me, getting more and more agitated at my behavior. (My opinion of him raised considerably after that lesson. I realized he had a superb crap detector.) The girls were shuffling in their desks, not knowing what to make of it, but sadly, mostly remained quiet. The other boys were pretty much oblivious, and were model students in terms of engaging positively with my activities of the day. They didn't know they were being played. No one did.
I held out this way until the last few minutes of the class, when I wrote big on the blackboard:
1919I turned my body to address the whole class and said, in 1919 women gained the right to vote through the ratification of the 19th amendment.
That's all I said. Class dismissed. Everyone left in silence, as I remember. It worked. They got it. If nothing else, I got it. (If I could teach it again, I'd leave more time to process the experience, giving the girls plenty of time to comment. If I could teach it again, I'd ask one of the girls to state the significance of 1919.) That date is emblazoned on my brain. It was the first, best and last time I ever taught that lesson. My supervising teacher had been planning his class reunion in the library and he did not witness my victory.
In fact, my supervising teacher ended up changing the course of my life by writing up a negative evaluation of my 5-month long student teaching performance. As such I ended up working in other sectors, including with an international development agency for 17 years. In those years another lesson branded me: women and girls represent 70 percent of the world's poverty and crime victims, yet have the least access to resources. And when women and girls advance, everyone does. It's not either/or. It's not men v. women. It's a matter of everyone having equal opportunity. A partner we worked with in India was known to have said: "The glory of God is men and women working together."
Having a women presidential candidate is not in and of itself advancing equal opportunity, even though it's historic. It is merely an indicator of equal opportunity. What matters is having the right presidential candidate who is dedicated to equal opportunity policies. Iowa made history last year by sending the first woman (Joni Ernst) to Washington as part of our congressional delegation. Historic, yes. The right choice, no, in my opinion. I didn't vote for her, and I will not vote for her in the future. And I'm not, no-voting for Joni Ernst because she's a woman, in the same way I'm not yes-voting for Hillary because she's a woman. My opinions are based on policies.
If I could present a part two of my famous 1919 history lesson (famous to me), I'd present this video which apparently did not make the democratic convention agenda, but is making the rounds on social media. I wouldn't show it as an overt partisan pandering -- but for the depiction of how important it is to support girls and women around the world.
Wish it went even deeper because equality is the key to our national security. You could say this: when women and girls advance, there is less poverty and less extremism, less terrorism. When women and girls advance, everyone advances.
Women have sons and girls have fathers. Our very survival depends on equal treatment of everyone.
Please watch this video, no matter your politics. Don't boo, vote. (Quoting President Obama.)
Thank you for your consideration.
Terri Mork Speirs