We Asked People What It Would Actually Mean To Have A Woman As President

by Alexandra Svokos

At a party last month, I casually mentioned it would be pretty cool to have a female president.

As soon as I said it, the man I was talking to criticized me for only supporting Hillary Clinton because she's a woman, even though I hadn't even said whom I was planning to vote for.

It's not just men who say this kind of thing. Women have been policing feminist behavior by accusing other women of being bad feminists for considering a candidate's gender at all.

Reactions like these make me wary of even hinting I'd like to have a woman as president. My opinions, research and knowledge are immediately invalidated as I'm told I'm voting with my uterus and not taking democracy seriously.

But you know what? I think it'd be really freaking awesome to have a female president. I think it's important to have a female role model to show girls they can do it, too, and they belong in positions of power.

Not to mention, I would really appreciate having someone in charge who actually knows women's bodies.

As it stands, Hillary Clinton is the only woman left in the presidential campaign. So, I asked Hillary supporters in New Hampshire that taboo question: What would it mean to you to have a female president?

Emefa Agawu, 22, wants someone to expand her own sense of what she can do.

Alexandra Svokos
Can I give a long answer? I'm a woman of color, and when I think about the forces that shape what I think and believe I can do in the world, my race is an enormous force for me. But when I think about the way I interact with others -- how I present myself in conversation, whether I interrupt or don't, whether I say what's on my mind or not -- those are overwhelmingly influenced by the fact that I'm a woman and the ways that I was socialized around that. For me, seeing women ascend to high positions, like the presidency, would expand, drastically, my palate of female opportunity and examples of female leadership in a country that is woefully behind so many other nations, particularly in the political realm. I study political science. I hope to be involved in policy somehow in my life, and the range of options that I would consider open to myself are usually behind-the-scenes, but to see a woman in that chair, in that Oval Office, really expands those opportunities for me.

For Wendy Thomas, 57, gender doesn't influence her vote.

Alexandra Svokos
You know, it's not as important to me to have a female president as it is to have an experienced president. I'm a supporter of Hillary Clinton. I've been a supporter since 2008. I think she's the most qualified person. That's my first criteria. The fact that she's a woman is just icing on the cake.

Marwa is an Egyptian citizen, but she cares about the election as it will inevitably affect her country -- and she wants to see a woman in charge.

Alexandra Svokos
Actually, it would mean a lot to me because as a male or female president, there is one who considers [women's] issues, who understands and evaluates them in how he or she could handle the situation, in America or other countries. But [Hillary] is not only female. She's a female who's had a lot, a lot of great experience on political issues, and this experience should be considered. Being a female, [she] considers the family, considers how females deal, how there is discrimination we are trying to avoid, being a mom. This is what we care about right now.

Yeny Paiva, 39, was at Hillary's primary night party with her daughter and niece.

Alexandra Svokos
It would mean that any woman or child can believe in themselves and can become anything they want, a president, anything. -- Izabella, 11 I think that women have worked so hard, and I think it's about time that we can actually have a woman as a president. I would be very happy. -- Yeny It means that a lady could do anything that a man can do, too. So she can become president just like men can. -- Victoria, 8

Samantha Karlin, 29, came in with the research.

Alexandra Svokos
First of all, there's psychological studies that show that when girls see a woman in a role model place, they're more likely to aspire higher than if they see a man there. So, I think just having a female president would encourage girls to reach higher and to realize they can be president. I think it's particularly important because when you look at American history, our textbooks are so full of men, and the women that we see are pretty gendered, right? They're nurses, you know? And there's not very many of them. I also think that from a policy perspective it's really important. It sends a message about women's rights [for other countries], because [Hillary] is super behind women's rights. If there were a female president at the same time that there were a female secretary general of the UN, what they'd be able to get done -- on child marriage, female entrepreneurship, developing opportunities for women, girls' education? I think it would just be incredible.

Jordan Thompson, 17, thinks about it from a historical perspective.

Alexandra Svokos
In school, I've always been deeply interested in the suffragette movement and the struggle for just the right to vote for women. So I think that a woman running for president and potentially winning is something that people have fought for for centuries. That's so crucial.

Molly, 21, doesn't care about a candidate's gender.

Alexandra Svokos
It wouldn't be any different because I feel it's just the decisions being made, and the disposition and the character of the individual in the office. So the gender, the sex? It's just no difference.

Victoria Hall-Palerm, 22, is concerned about sexism in this election.

Alexandra Svokos
It would mean the world to see not just any woman president, but particularly this woman president. [Hillary] to me is the most qualified candidate, and there's a part of me that feels, 'If not her, what woman will be good enough?' I'm not saying I'm voting for her because she's a woman, but I think what keeps so many people from being behind her, from loving her, is in some subtle ways because of her sex. What I want more than anything is for people to be born with a woman president, so that it's just a fact of life. And going forward, a race won't be about whether or not a woman can be president, it's whether or not the best candidate can win, regardless of any other racial, gender circumstances.

Ami, 50, doesn't care about Hillary's gender... sort of.

Alexandra Svokos
I don't think it matters that [Hillary] is a female; I think it matters that she's the best qualified for the job. Being a woman is extra, because, you know, women always do a better job than men [laughs].

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.