The emails started flying around last week, from a generation of women who never thought they'd live to do it. My friend Pam started it: She's survived two heart transplants, helped nominate the first woman on a major ticket, and yes, she just voted for a "Girl!"
Then there was "Z," who broke every glass ceiling in television news, and after that they just kept on coming. We had not voted for a girl. We had voted for a woman of our generation, a woman who never stopped pushing, never stopped trying, a woman who defines perseverance in all its forms — a woman who, with not too much luck, is about to become the first female president of the United States.
So, no, I'm not telling you to vote for her just because she's a woman.
If you don't agree with her on important questions of policy, if you can find your way to believe (and please, spare the rest of us the logic here) that Donald Trump is more qualified to be president: Then by all means, vote for the guy who pays no taxes, treats truth like a floating craps game, speaks more highly of Vladimir Putin than of his Democratic opponent, and treats obedience to the Constitution and laws of the United States of America as a "maybe yes, maybe no" question. Put gender aside altogether, and if you think he is the better-qualified candidate for president of the United States, the man who is in the best position to unite all of us and represent us before the world, vote for Donald Trump.
I remember, years ago, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman interviewed the first woman to crack one of the last ceilings: Rhodes Scholarships. She was way younger than me; it was not so many years ago. Asked about discrimination, the young woman professed surprise and ignorance: She had never been the victim of discrimination, and she was not a feminist.
You don't know whether to laugh or cry. On how many women's shoulders do you stand, young woman — and you don't even know it? She would find out, soon enough.
We have always done best at achieving equality at the starting points in the job markets. Take just one leave, just one period of part-time work (aka motherhood), and the pay gap starts yawning. Clinton is by no means the perfect candidate but then neither was her husband nor anyone named Bush. But need I add that it didn't take a "Donald Trump" for any of them to win? For a while, I was not the only one on the email chain who worried that we might be planning to vote for a woman but a majority of the electorate would not, and that would be a hard result to explain without regard to gender.
And so there is a kind of just deserts in the fact that what has ultimately sunk the Donald balloon is not all the silly things he has said about Putin and hacking, not the Chinese steel for his buildings or the fact that every one of us pays more in taxes than he does (although that does get me), not even his keeping us in suspense about the results of the election: It was a gender issue, and it only applied to him, not her. It is sexism all right — only it's his, pure and simple. It's not whether Americans are willing to accept a woman as president but whether they're willing to accept a man who talks about women and treats women the way Donald Trump does.
We all knew sexism would be a major issue, but who knew Trump would give us a chance to face it in such stark form, to face it in a form where there can be only one answer?
I voted for a "girl," and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Maybe it just takes a Donald.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.