Don’t vote for Hilary because she’s a woman.

I beat my first boy when I was four years old. And, I liked it. I broke my first bones to a boy when I was eight years old. And, I felt tougher. I was beaten by my first boy when I was ten years old. And, I was humiliated.

For over 30 years, I separated myself from boys. As a runner, I competed in girls’ divisions. When I became a district technology director, I applauded myself for being a woman in a “man’s world.” But, it wasn’t until I reached 30 years old that I stopped competing against “boys” and distinguishing myself from them.

I’ve thought of myself feminist all my life. And, many of my friends and colleagues will disagree with me for the words that follow, but I urge you to listen and listen carefully.

Last night, I watched as the Democratic National Committee nominated Hilary Clinton as their nominee for the 2016 presidency. It was and will always be a historical moment. However, it was the video and words that followed that aggravated my feminist thoughts.

As a struggling candidate in a struggling election season, Mrs. Clinton’s team has struggled to find ways to make her more appealing. That was…until last night. Immediately, social media lit up with pictures, quotes, and videos highlighting Hilary as a woman. “We should vote for her because she is the first woman” were both words written and implied messages.

But, stop right there.

We want to vote for Mrs. Clinton because she is a woman? Just as, we want to vote for Mr. Trump because he is a white man (with hair that has its own personality). Is it not the same rationale?

When President Obama was elected, many turned out to vote because it was historical…because he was the first African American to potentially take office.

The historical benefits must be a bonus, not the reason for voting.

Mrs. Clinton has been critiqued and nominated as a woman since she first hit the spotlight.

As a child, I watched as her appearance was mocked and insulted while she served as First Lady. When President B. Clinton’s cheating scandals came into view, she was further insulted – as a woman not able to to “keep her man.”

Now, when she moves into her own leadership role, she is reduced to being a woman again. We can make her a mark of achievement for our children. We can aspire to produce more girls in positions of leadership. We can continue to raise that “glass ceiling.” But, we cannot make her being a woman another reason for voting. Will she be a role model for our girls? Perhaps. But, that is not the reason for voting for her. An argument could be made that a white father could be a role model for our boys, but that, too, is not a reason for voting.

We also cannot reduce women’s issues to just abortion. Women’s issues are more than just abortion. Likewise, abortion should not be a “you’re with us or you’re against us” issue. This is a multifaceted issue. We should not scrutinize women for being against abortion just as we do not need to criticize a mother for being for abortion. We reduce women to stand-alone issues when we do this. We distinguish them. We separate them.

Let’s unit women around all issues – not just the ones we think pertain to women or the ones we think a woman should vote for in a certain way. To say a woman can only vote one way for an issue is an insult to the diversity that is womanhood.

We also need not vote for a candidate solely on an issue that we think pertains to women. Just as we should not vote for any candidate based upon a single issue that we think pertains to our gender, sexuality, race, religion, and so forth. Let’s vote united. Let’s be united.

Women are more than abortion and child care. They are leaders. They are mothers. They are artists. They are friends. They are us. But, being a woman is not qualification enough. It’s what you do with your womanhood.

Let’s rejoice that the “glass ceiling” has been raised (it’s not fully lifted), but let’s move forward. Let’s not lower the glass ceiling by reducing Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications for presidency to being a woman. Being a woman, being African American, being White, being Christian, etc. are not qualifications. Let’s celebrate her in the way we would celebrate a typical white male presidency candidate.

I continue to work for women, for girls, to break the glass ceiling. I continue to fight to get more women into tech fields. But, being a woman is never enough qualification just as being a man is not enough. It’s who you are.

Someday, I hope Martin Luther King Jr.’s words will ring true: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”

So, too, I hope women will not be judged by their gender, but by the content of their character. Gender will no longer be a voting factor or an exclusive club.

How much is your life worth?

I found myself asking this question this week after a series of health costs that have exceeded my income.

I have health care coverage. I have dental, vision, car, renter’s, pet, and life. I am an insured person. I have a salaried job that puts me in the middle-class income scale. I also consult and teach fitness classes. I have never worked less than two jobs simultaneously since I graduated college over 10 years ago.

Despite the fact that I earn more money than over half of the population and that I am insured, I am unable to pay for my health costs.

Recently, my ear issues (I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease over six years ago) became unbearable. In fact, they caused me endless bills, missed flights, and daily nausea and vommitting since they began over three weeks ago. Because of this and their threat on my ability to consult, to travel, to drive, and to function normally, health care is a necessity.

Yet, despite this necessity, I question how “bad” is too bad to bear to avoid the rising costs.

This is not a question I should ever have to ask. But, I’m asking it now and I’ve asked it before. How many health issues must I cast aside, hoping that they do not cost me my life and happiness? How many others face this question? Why are insured, middle-class individuals asking this same question?

Yesterday, I completed vestibular testing for my ears. When I went to check out, the assistant said “that will be $600. Would you like to pay by check or card?” I was caught off-guard. She said $600 in the same tone she would say a “$25 copay.” I wondered if these amounts were routine for her. She did not give me a summary of the costs – only the total.

Compare this to the automotive industry: Your car breaks down so you take it into the shop. They give you an itemized quote PRIOR to completing work on your vehicle. You have the option to continue with the costs or take it elsewhere, knowing your car WILL get fixed.

Within the health care industry, there is no itemized quote PRIOR to procedures. And, you don’t have an option to take the imaginary quote to another doctor. It’s your health – you want to get it fixed. You need to get it fixed.

Have a car is a necessity, but it’s not the same as your life. Why are we given more options for payment when dealing with a car than when dealing with our health?

Why does an hour’s worth of tests – that include ear plugs and glasses – cost $600 AFTER insurance? Why does an MRI cost a patient over $1600 AFTER insurance.

The problem is two-fold: Why does insurance cost so much and cover so little? And, why are these costs so high to begin with?

How much is your health worth? How much is your life worth?