Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie asked Hillary Clinton why, with all of her career accomplishments, her Twitter bio primarily identifies her as a “wife” – and the politician had a thought-provoking response.
There’s no doubt about it; the 2016 presidential election will go down in history as one of the most controversial ever - not least of all because Hillary Clinton, despite winning the popular vote of over 2 million, suffered a devastating loss to renowned misogynist and reality star, Donald Trump.
Since then, though, Clinton has made it her mission to restore hope to women everywhere, offering them words of promise and encouragement as they come to terms with their new world. She’s hit out at the “endemic misogyny” that she says partly caused her loss, thrown herself into working towards training women to run for politics in the 2018 mid-terms, and made it her business to call out Trump’s divisive behaviour whenever and wherever she can.
And yet, if you look at Clinton’s Twitter bio, it seems the original ‘Nasty Woman’ primarily identifies herself as a ‘Wife’ – a point which feminist powerhouse Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie decided to raise while interviewing the former Democratic presidential candidate at a PEN World Voices Festival lecture.
“In your Twitter account, the first word that describes you is ‘Wife,’” said Adichie, according to Jezebel.
“And then I think it’s ‘Mom,’ and then it’s ‘Grandmother,’” Adichie said. “And when I saw that, I have to confess that I felt just a little bit upset. And then I went and I looked at your husband’s Twitter account, and the first word was not ‘husband.’”
For those interested, Clinton’s Twitter bio reads: “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate.”
Bill’s, on the other hand, states: “Founder, Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States.”
"To all the little girls watching...never doubt that you are valuable and powerful & deserving of every chance & opportunity in the world."— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 9, 2016
Clinton, after taking a moment to think about the content of her bio, admitted that she had been inspired to champion both her accomplishments and her relationships by the late Barbara Bush.
“She said, you know, at the end of the day, it won’t matter if you got a raise, it won’t matter if you wrote a great book, if you are not also someone who values relationships,” she explained.
“[But] it should be that if you are someone who is defining yourself by what you do and what you accomplish, and that is satisfying, then more power to you. That is how you should be thinking about your life, and living it. If you are someone who primarily defines your life in relationship to others, then more power to you, and live that life the way Barbara Bush lived that life, and how proud she was to do it.
“I think most of us as women in today’s world end up in the middle. Wanting to have relationships, wanting to invest in them, nurture them, but also pursuing our own interests.”
However, it soon became apparent that Adichie’s observation had given Clinton food for thought, as she added that she was definitely thinking about changing her bio in the not-so-distant future.
“It could say, ‘Should have been a damn good president,’” she joked.
Essentially, Clinton is saying that women should be able to make any choice they want as part of their feministic expression. Or, to paraphrase the great Leslie Knope: “If you want to bake a pie, that’s great, if you want to have a career, that’s great too. Do both or neither, doesn’t matter, just don’t judge what someone else has decided to do.
“We’re all just trying to find the right path for us as individuals on this earth.”
Clinton has previously revealed that she wants to be remembered as a “leader of a revolution” in women’s rights.
“I was a part of a revolution, I was part of a revolution for women’s rights that began in the Sixties with real intensity – continued up until the present day – and I became a leader of that revolution,” she said in conversation with BBC’s James Noughtie.
“It is the unfinished business globally of the 21st century to free women from the constraints and strictures that hold them back, that squash their dreams and to give every woman everywhere the chance to live up to her own God-given potential and that’s what I believe in.”
However, in a recent interview with Stylist, Clinton allowed that she cannot do this all by herself.
“[Saving the world] is gonna require everyone who understands how fragile we are right now doing their part. And speaking out. Standing up. Voting, voting. For the kind of future we want. A future where people come together to solve problems, not hurl insults back and forth across a divide.
“It requires leadership from public officials, the private sector, advocacy groups and charities. So there’s a role, there’s something for everybody to do. I’m going to be doing my part. And not to get overwhelmed and discouraged because the problems are so big. It’s going to take consistent effort across every country for many years to deal with these very difficult times we face.”
Clinton added: “So you tell your book group, you tell your mother, you tell everybody that I’m going to keep going, in part because I want them to keep going.”