June 7, 2016
Jay Newton-Small wrote for TIME about Hillary Clinton, and the road to a female President nominee from a U.S. major party:
There always has to be a first. Though she just became the first woman to clinch the nomination of either major U.S. political party, Hillary Clinton wasn’t by any stretch the first woman to run for President. Her success, as she noted in her victory speech Tuesday night in New York City, comes as she stands on the shoulders of generations of American women.
“Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone: the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” she said. “Tonight it really is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”
With every candidacy, the public grew more used to the idea. And the notion was furthered by Hollywood’s fixation on women in politics in the past decade, many of those characters based, in part, on Clinton. With every discussion of the sexism female candidates faced, their challenges in media, the criticism of how the looked or sounded, their difficulty raising money compared to their male rivals, their responsibility for their husband’s flaws — ground was tilled and it became easier each time for a woman to advance. With this victory, Clinton takes another of those steps. And even if Clinton doesn’t win the Oval Office this time, her candidacy has already made history, already made it easier for the next woman to run.
Women have run in at least 35 races for President since Victoria Woodhull announced her groundbreaking candidacy in a letter to the New York Herald on April 2, 1870. Considering this was 50 years before women won the right to vote, her bid was pretty astonishing. Never mind that 33-year-old Woodhull wasn’t legally old enough to become President, she won the Equal Right’s Party nomination and selected as her running mate Frederick Douglass, the renowned former slave and abolitionist leader. Woodhull, whose open marriage was the talk of New York, traveled the country promoting her platform of suffrage, “free love” and birth control. She once declared marriage to be nothing more than “legalized prostitution.”