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My inner pundit rags at me whenever I take leaps of faith only slightly more consequential than a new hair cut. So it is wildly acting out over Hillary’s ballsy—or rather—bulging ovarian launch head first into the ultimate glass ceiling.

To my (monkey) mind, Hillary is reminiscent of the mythological Hindu monkey god, Hanuman. Stay with me. For those unfamiliar, Hanuman was known for his energy, swiftness, power and strength. As a child, Hanuman thought the sun was ripe fruit and tried to jump up to catch it. He got badly singed in the process but was able to impress Rama, the great Sun god.

Hanuman was plagued by detractors who put a fake curse on him, leading him to lose faith in his magical powers. Later, in an attempt to save the life of Rama’s beloved Shiva, he leapt from mountain to mountain, traversing the expanse of the Indian Ocean, escaping devouring demons to deliver a healing herb, rescuing Shiva and restoring his mojo.

A few weeks ago I got myself into “Hanuman’s pose,” known to laymen as a yogic split. I threw my back out.

I realize this metaphor might be as weak as my sacroiliac joint. Casting Hillary as a female Hanuman is a giant stretch, but listen to this: little Hanuman was a shape shifter. Once he was threatened by an elephant and morphed into a beast so large he overpowered it, tusks and all!

Of all the criticism you hear about Hillary, the most obnoxious and enduring is that she is not “authentic.” With the exception of Rand Paul (plagiarizer, waffler) Hillary has taken more arrows in the back than anyone in the 2016 field for presenting herself as someone she’s not. A week in, I’ve already heard criticism about her sunglass-clad “pretentious Scooby Van” visit to an Ohio Chipotle where she had the elitist nerve to order guacamole on the side. Please.

Americans want to know, who is the real Hillary? This male-dominated media/politico mantra drives me crazy for so many reasons, but I’ll try to boil it down.

In 2008, when Hillary broke down in tears the day before the New Hampshire primary, people said it helped her edge out Obama by three points.

After the victory, she said, “I come tonight with a very, very full heart, and I want especially to thank New Hampshire,” Clinton told a jubilant crowd in Manchester. “Over the last week, I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice.” That voice must be ironclad by now.

The inside-the-beltway chattering class still speculates about whether those tears were faked or authentic, and that was nine years ago. You can’t talk a mad dog off a meat wagon, as we say in Missouri. But shouldn’t that dog have gorged himself to death by now?

All women are excruciatingly familiar with Impostor Syndrome. Regardless of whether you’re a Hillary fan or can’t stand her, can we agree she’s done more than anyone since Madame Curie to cure it?

Cousin to perfectionism, Impostor Syndrome is often rooted in a deep caring for the work we do. It is much more common in women than men.

“We have to study harder, work longer, cross every i and dot every t. After all, we don’t want to go off half cocked (pun intended?). And we certainly don’t want to promise something unless we’re absolutely certain we can deliver.” — Dr. Valerie Young, Author, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from The Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.

Men are more likely to attribute their success to internal factors (their ability and effort) and their failure to external factors (task difficulty and luck), whereas women are more likely to attribute their success to external factors and their failure to internal factors, says Young.

Hillary’s calculus is more complicated and publicly visible than any other woman in American history, but it’s clear she has overcome her fair share of self-doubt. There are so many moving parts. She has been in the arena fighting for human rights, making a difference for the underdog, and yes, has made a few well publicized mistakes—in the span of a 45-year career, all while married to wild Bill.

She is a modern-day Carmen Miranda on a high wire over Niagara Falls, but with more fruit in her hat.

(And not the one she just threw into that ring of fire–the one she has bravely chosen to wear for a long time, regardless of the outcome.) Cue the music. Let the dance begin.

It’s easy to think Hillary is different from us—more ambitious, worldlier, richer and thicker skinned from life in the political cement mixer. But we can’t help seeing ourselves somewhere in the melting pot of her human struggles. With all the king’s horse’s asses and all the king’s honorable men, Hillary’s resume made it to the top of the wall for reasons both tangible and squishy.

We know the Wikipedia facts: Educated at Wellesley and Yale Law School; Partner, Rose Law Firm, First Lady, U.S. Senator, 2008 POTUS First-Runner Up, U.S. Secretary of State.

On the squishy side—but I dare say no less important in terms of building character (maybe only women can fully appreciate what these contribute to the hard notches on a garter belt):

• Hacking through the unpaved jungle of non-traditional women’s work
• Thousands of hours politely enduring all that mansplaining, everywhere
• The private heartbreak and public humiliation of a philandering husband
• Childbirth and primary parenting of a successful, well-adjusted child

If I were in Hillary’s Aerosols, I’d be severely tempted to apply what I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’m guessing that figures into the pro side of her decision tree. That’s the real prize for surviving what we regret. And then there’s a chance to show off some fancy footwork polished on those banana peels thrown in her wake.

From experience alone, she must know better than all the other candidates who’ve announced—or are on the verge of announcing—what to expect. She’s prepared, and no one in her family is apt to wig out from the shock of it all.

How intriguing, this woman who can actually win the presidency, and yet, knows she can’t win; that there is no “winning,” because no matter what she does, it will be scrutinized through the lens of a sexist and politically polarizing culture.

Our strange litmus test for male political candidates has long been, “Is he the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with?”

Dukakis was not that kind of guy (remember the tank optics?) and neither was Al Gore (oh Lord, remember that “manly” French kiss with now ex-wife Tipper?) or John Kerry (windsurfer dude). George W. Bush was that kind of guy (even though he couldn’t handle his liquor). Obama went bowling and drank a beer to prove he was that kind of guy.

This traditionally male test hasn’t been outed as it applies to women until recently. Personally, that bawdy laugh of hers they mimic on Saturday Night Live makes me want to split a bottle of Chardonnay with her. Oh the tales she could tell! Another round on me…keep going girlfriend! Tell us about Putin—did you see him flexing his pecs through that wicked golf shirt in the middle of negotiations? LOL!

SNL portrays Hillary as an egomaniacal, masticating political animal of unbridled ambition (ahem, how is that different than her male counterparts)? And then there’s the fixation on hair, make-up and wardrobe. And the age thing. And the whispering campaign about Hillary being a lesbian.

All this will continue to swirl in the wind like toilet paper hoisted at a tree on Halloween night. I’m guessing her strategists are advising her to have plenty of candy on the porch.

It will only get worse as she gets stronger. Like with racism (shuck and jive references) the language of sexism will be spoken in code in an attempt to mute her–no no no no no no listen…shush—adding a little more fruit to balance in her hat.

I’m betting before it’s over there will be melons.

Just as Obama has to be careful not to get angry (to avoid embodying whitey’s caricature of the menacing black man), opting instead to neutralize his emotions at the risk of being called arrogant (uppity), Hillary will have to dispute the merits of her male opponents’ arguments without seeming like a ball buster—a label reserved for women who fully own their power.

Consider the dictionary definition of gravitas: gravi-tas (grav’i tas) – n. Reserved dignity; propriety and good taste in behavior and speech, as of a leader or official.

As Katie Couric remarked, after hearing her detractors carp that it was something she needed as a major network news anchor, “I’m convinced gravitas is just Latin for testicles.” Unlike Brian Williams, she never made shit up—she wouldn’t have gotten away with it for a New York second.

Run, Hillary, Run.

Holly Smith-Berry
Holly Smith-Berry
Like you, I’m a shape shifter, living as many roles as an umbrella has spokes: marketing exec, entrepreneur, parent, daughter, friend, sister, yogi, writer. Most of my career I’ve worked in the Housewares Industry developing new products. Sometimes I’ve taken them all the way from the gleam in an inventor’s eye to America’s kitchens.
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