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One Way or Another, Women Will Decide It

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By Krissah Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hernandez living room, North Austin -- Jennifer Cruz Hernandez's life goes like this: Get the kids ready for school. Work a shift at the hospital. Take her daughters to the gym for practice. Cook dinner. Help with homework. Bathe the kids. Put them to bed. Sleep, and repeat.

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"It's not that dads aren't important," the 38-year-old nurse manager said, glancing across the room at her husband, Carlos. "But you walk in and everyone wants to sit on Mommy's lap. You have to be everything.

"Hillary understands. She's a mother and an attorney. As a woman you do it all -- cook, wash, clean and feed the dog."

"She probably hasn't done that in 30 years," Carlos, 40, interrupted, referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"You don't know," Jennifer shot back.

Hernandez has been dealing with macho men all her life. She once tried to shoot some pool in her father's bar in San Antonio, but her dad wouldn't let her. "No, women don't touch the cues here," he told his daughter.

"My dad is just a macho, macho man, and he wouldn't vote for a woman if he were dying," she said, pulling on her short bangs. "He doesn't think women are as smart as men, no matter how much education they have. He thinks the stronger person is a man -- even if it's just stronger physically."

Hernandez thinks Clinton has helped puncture some of that sentiment. She has particularly enjoyed watching the senator from New York hold her own against a stage full of men during nearly two dozen debates. The scenes provide a welcome antidote to more maddening ones in her own life, such as when older male doctors in the hospital expect her to stand when they walk into the room. "If Hillary won, I think they might have more respect," she said.

"They underestimate women," her husband interjected. "By 'they' I mean white men."

"Not just white men, any men," Hernandez corrected.

She put a "Hillary for President" sign in their front yard two weeks ago even though her husband favors Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.). The sign is leaning over and wrinkled because Carlos accidentally soaked it with the sprinkler the other day. But it is still standing.

"A lot of old men from the South will flip out if Hillary wins," Hernandez said. "I just think if Hillary doesn't get in, most likely it will be a long time before you see another woman" in a presidential race.

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