Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: Action figures and changes in the workforce

I just received my Hillary Clinton action figure in the mail, thanks to Kickstarter. The crowd-funding effort explained that "dolls like Barbie have a long history of sending out the wrong message" to young girls, so they created this doll as the antidote. 

As fun as it is to have my little plastic politician, let's not lose sight of how important it is to all women that the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State is running for president again. This is not about politics, or an attempt to recruit votes for the Clinton campaign. To really appreciate what Hillary is trying to accomplish now, we must first look at where she came from.

During a recent trip to the salon, I sat in the waiting room with a woman named Deborah. Bragging about my new toy as we waited for our chairs, I soon discovered Deborah was the same age as Clinton. So I had her describe for me what it was like to enter the professional world as a woman when they did. And the answers were sobering.

“They always asked about what birth control I was using at job interviews,” she described, “and how could I prove I wouldn't get pregnant while on the job. I finally came up with a story about a hysterectomy, making it impossible, that I used at job interviews.”

You should be able to trust your doctor, but even Deborah was judged when she simply wanted to get birth control.

“When I went to get some, my male OBGYN wouldn't give me any, because I wasn't married,” said Deborah.  “He wouldn't condone letting me get ‘spoiled’ before marriage.”  

Of course you expect men to discriminate against women 40 years ago, but even women jumped on the sexist bandwagon.

“I remember trying to get a job as an account manager and being interviewed by a woman who told me I couldn't be considered for anything but typing,” she said. “That’s because women's fingers were designed to handle tiny typewriter keys and men's fingers were just too big to handle them. It was the way God intended so I could do typing or nothing.”

In regards to today, Deborah said she is relieved that no one is talking much about Hillary's hair or her figure, that they are talking about her impact in the world.

I certainly never had to endure the same experiences Deborah did while looking for a job.  Despite continued sexism I have experienced when it comes to salary, progress is being made for women in the workplace and should always be appreciated.  

I’m glad I helped fund that Kickstarter campaign, and agree that a doll who is important for being skinny and dating a guy with a tan line is incredibly outdated for young women. The next step? Go from having a presidential candidate as an action figure to a female president on United States currency.