Author’s Notes: After You Break the Ceiling

So thrilled that Bending Genres, a fantastically eclectic online publication, has published my essay, “After You Break the Ceiling.”

I wrote the first draft of this essay on the day that Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. (You’ll notice it’s dedicated to Elizabeth.) I appreciated Warren’s platforms, policies, and conduct. But I also thrilled at the authentic way that she conducted her campaign and her career.

As an intelligent person and leader who lives in a female body, I know how much pressure there is to conform one’s appearance and stances, to subvert one’s fire and intellect. I’ve been told to sit down and shut up enough times to be excited to see another female leader who did neither of those things. And I loved the idea of her serving as President.

So, when she ended her race for the presidency, I experienced the blow on multiple levels: I felt sad that I could not cast my vote for my preferred candidate; I felt disappointed that gender continues plays such an important role in perception of one’s leadership capacity; and I experienced grief for myself and my daughter, hoping that each of us will find avenues to express our leadership potential.

As I sat down to write, all of this knotted itself in my gut. And yet, I knew I couldn’t simply rage (it’s called hysteria when a woman does it). I couldn’t lament. I needed to tell a better story, one with a wider view and longer vision. A way to locate this moment and myself in a broader arc of female-identifying or -identified people’s ongoing, centuries-long efforts for equality and freedom. And this is what came out.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Are inspired by it, can find yourself in it. And if you have comments or feedback, I’d love to hear from you!

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