My character, Miranda Hobbes, was decidedly un-glamorous. At the beginning of the series, her suits were stiff and clichéd, her hair color was garish, and her jewelry was tacky. Though Miranda was passionate and ferociously loyal, she could also be judgmental and stubborn. A hardworking woman who made partner at her law firm (something that was even more rare in 1998 than it is today), she was respected for her accomplishments but, well, “fun” was never her middle name.
To say that someone was “such a Miranda” often meant that they were a type A personality, consumed by their career, or, worse, that they were a killjoy. Miranda wasn’t loathed, but she wasn’t nearly as aspirational as her more glamorous girlfriends.
Personally, I never felt that way. I always loved and admired Miranda.
I didn’t just love her because she was the character that I played. I loved Miranda because she was smart and independent and determined. And now, two decades later, it seems the world is coming around to Miranda,— too.
One thing I always loved about that spirited redhead was that she didn’t suppress her ambitions in order to be more "likable," nor did she try to squeeze herself into stereotypical notions of womanhood and femininity. She took issue with the idea that wife and mother were prerequisites for a full life and she refused to let societal norms dictate her destiny.
Through it all, Miranda boldly defined womanhood on her own terms.
Miranda dealt with "mansplaining" before we had a word for it. She faced down catcalls and sexual harassment before social media gave us a space to share our stories.
While I admired Miranda, I didn't exactly identify with her — at least not at first.
People would often ask me how she and I were similar. But in fact, when the show started, we really didn’t have much in common at all. I wasn’t single, I had always known motherhood was going to be a centerpiece of my life, and I wasn’t the sort of fearless gladiator that she was.
But by the end of the show’s run, when someone asked me that same question, I was surprised to find myself saying that Miranda and I had grown toward each other over the course of six seasons. I learned not to be scared of confrontation from Miranda, and I became more empowered in my own life as I stepped into the world of political activism. At the same time, she softened and grew to appreciate who she was outside of her work, becoming a mother and partnering with a husband who embodied the domestic qualities that she decidedly lacked.
Through it all, Miranda boldly defined womanhood on her own terms. I’d like to believe that she empowered others to do the same. She didn’t pretend that motherhood came easily to her, but she worked hard to make it work for herself and her family. She never apologized for her success, her seriousness, or her sexuality, and she shared a special sisterhood with women who were different from her without wavering on who she was or demanding that they do the same.
Women are not only leading the fight against economic injustice — we are also the ones overwhelmingly shouldering its burden. Across New York state, two-thirds of minimum wage jobs are held by women, and nearly 38% of New York’s female-headed households with children are living in poverty. That’s why it’s never been more important for women to recognize ourselves as a force for political change.
To be clear, Miranda Hobbes is not the perfect feminist role model. Some of her drawbacks reflect the struggles we’ve seen within our real-life feminist movement. Miranda’s New York was a very affluent, white slice of our diverse city and state. As the feminist movement continues to evolve, our feminism must be intersectional. It can’t (and shouldn’t) succeed without women of color and trans women leading the way.
And while that’s happening, women across the board need to keep reminding ourselves and each other that we no longer need to “wait our turn,” “let the boys handle it,” or “stay in our lane.” If we want change, we have to do what women have always done — we have to go out and do it ourselves.
What does it mean to be a "Miranda" in 2018? It means defining yourself and your life on your own terms, committing to what’s right, and standing up for your sisters. For me, it means taking my passion for justice in all spaces — education and criminal justice reform chief among them — and working to make my home state of New York a better place for all. That’s why I’m running for governor of New York State.
Cynthia Nixon is running to be the governor of New York. Views expressed here are her own.