When we launched Lenny with a Hillary Clinton interview, we were excited, of course. Iconic female politician, soon to be the Democratic presidential nominee, sitting down with us to kick off our little newsletter? Yes, please! It made us feel official, powerful, like we were really in the room where it happens! But I can also say that everyone who was there that day, from our Lenny staff to our video crew, walked away both impressed and moved by Secretary Clinton's careful attention. Not just to us as people, but also to the policies she is committed to enacting. Despite being on the verge of losing her voice after weeks of travel, she spoke with that signature welcoming boom, laughing heartily and causing the room to burst into applause when she responded that yes, indeed, she is a feminist.
Below are some previously unpublished excerpts from our conversation, where she discusses the lack of support we give to working mothers and how politics has a place for millennial women. We loved her that day, and after the past year we have respect for her resolve and tenacity on a level we could not have imagined. As the results of today's election flood in, and we hope for this amazing milestone to be achieved, I will let her words below comfort me: "Whenever I'm talking to young women about politics, I always say, 'Look. You don't have to run for office. You don't even have to be actively involved. But you do have to exercise your brain in deciding what you believe and whom you will support.'"
I believe we listened to her. I believe we will show up today. And I believe our voices will be heard.
Lena Dunham: There's such a dialogue now, even now, about whether women can have it all. Whether they can be mothers at the same time they have careers, at the same time they have satisfying personal lives. And obviously that's exhausting. It's frustrating that we still have to talk about it.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Right.
LD: But we do.
HRC: We do.
LD: And I'm sure many women ask you that themselves. What do you say to those women?
HRC: I say: It's a set of questions everybody, if they're honest, has to admit they struggle with. And there is no one size fits all. But I think there are some guidelines that people can look to. One of the things to be really sure of when you have children is how much help you're going to get from your spouse or your partner, and how much help you're going to get from the rest of your family. It's not easy under any circumstances to become a new mother. Everybody who's been through it knows that.
You need help. You need people you can count on. Too many women don't have that support system. Or they don't ask for help, because they think they're supposed to be able to do it all themselves, or they unfortunately don't have anybody in their lives who's going to actually chip in and do what they can do. So I think it's important that you are honest about what your own limitations are, what you think you can do, and how much help you need to be able to do it.
I also think we do a pretty lousy job in our country of supporting women in work. It's hard to be living that double life experience where you have family responsibilities. Maybe it's a marriage and children, or maybe it's caring for an elderly relative. Everybody has something that they are called upon to try to deal with. And we just make it about as hard as we can in the entire world, as far as I'm concerned. We basically say to young women, "Well, go make these decisions, and then you're basically on your own." And I think that's short-sighted and counterproductive.