As we trudge through the muck that is election season, people are settling on their candidate of choice. Women, as usual, are regarded skeptically for their choices, and this is particularly prevalent within the exhausting dynamic that is the American left-wing.
Bernie or Hillary? After a lame-duck president like Obama, people – women – are searching for the candidate who can do the most for their own autonomy and the lives of others, and as a woman, you may see your choice for either of the two mainstream candidates being ridiculed as illegitimate and/or anti-feminist.
Today, women are derided for whomever they back in the 2016 presidential election. If you support Hillary you’re supposedly only voting for her because she’s a woman. If you support Bernie, you’re selling out your fellow women and their power.
There honestly is no outstanding candidate: one actively exercises hyper-militaristic policy and the other is weak on planned parenthood and inexperienced in foreign policy. There never is a perfect nominee, but even if there was, there would still be no reason to attack a woman for her candidate of choice, assume reasons why she’s voting for them, or imply her incompetence to have a truly valid opinion.
Bernie is more of a feminist than Hillary will ever be I DON'T CARE WHO HAS WHAT GENITALS
— spooked sophie Ⓥ (@lilveggo) April 9, 2016
I’ll start with how disgusting the way people talk about women who support Clinton is. For some time now, the idea that ladies are simply “voting with their vagina” has perpetuated the narrative that women are mindlessly casting their vote simply because of a mutual gender.
Hillary may be a violent, imperial feminist but the accusation of women basing their vote on genitals is horrible because it’s telling women that they’re too hysterical and too inept to even wrap their head around what’s best for the country. It tells women they can’t possibly be well informed enough to take a legitimate stance on real issues. Perhaps some women are intrigued by the idea of having a woman in the White House, but vanishingly few are going to cast a vote based solely on gender.
We should be far, far beyond a social era of making presumptions about people just because they’re female. Did women all lob their support behind Sarah Palin in 2008? She’s a woman, isn’t she? Of course they didn’t, because anyone can disagree with her policy regardless of her sex. This is why it’s so terrible to tell women that their support for Hillary is nothing more than a “woman to woman” bond.
“I don’t vote with my vagina. It’s so insulting to women to think that you would follow a candidate JUST because she’s a woman.” (2/3)
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) February 17, 2016
Women are voting for Hillary because they truly believe she’s the most intelligent, competent, and qualified candidate out there, so even if you think Hillary is awful, stop delegitimizing their voice. Everyone in America has the right to vote, so stop framing her female supporters as brainless simpletons.
It’s dehumanizing, it’s degrading, and it’s almost as bad what people are saying about women who support Bernie Sanders.
A few striding steps to the left stands the self-proclaimed socialist senator from Vermont, and accusations of anti-feminism are flying at his supporters. Politicians like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright even said, “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
The quote appeared in the mainstream back in 2008, even scoring a spot on Starbucks Coffee cups. There, the quote was printed without political context, making it look like a pithy little comment about sisterhood. Exactly the kind of thing you want to read as you enjoy a steaming cup of six dollar coffee.
The quote is a little easier to swallow without the aggressive connotation, but it’s a horrible idea to put in people’s minds regardless. Feminism is always about more than just gender. It’s more often than not juxtaposed with the effects of race, location, socio-economic circumstances, and literally everything else.
This is what’s so often confused by neofeminists: that being a feminist just means waving a female flag, and by not doing so you’re fighting for the other side. Albright’s “special place in hell” statement is recirculating and of course being reemphasized by campaigners in regards to the Clinton campaign.
This is particularly alarming because it’s so similar to the argument that some Berniebros have been throwing at Hillary supporters. If you support her it’s for no reason other than the fact that she’s a woman, and if you don’t, it’s betrayal.
if you consider yourself a feminist and seriously think Hilary is a better option than bernie for women, youre missing the point
— Dee Stalt (@EasyTokinStalt) April 15, 2016
It needs to be understood that not voting for Hillary doesn’t mean you’re betraying any other women. Though critiques of the Clinton campaign are riddled with sexism, often choosing to attack things like her clothing choices rather than her politics, there truly are legitimates reasons why one wouldn’t want to vote for her.
There are women who can’t forgive her for perpetuating a war in Afghanistan as Secretary of State. There are people who can’t deal with her inconsistent views on LGBT rights. There are voters who take into consideration that Bernie Sanders has protested mass incarceration for years, while current videos of Hillary telling a black girl protesting the same issue to stop “interrupting” are still surfacing.
The unchecked politics of Hillary supporters like Albright are backed by credentials that give them legitimacy, making them more respected and therefore more dangerous. People hear her, and people believe her when she states that while Sanders says he’s offering a revolution, electing the first female president would be a “real revolution.”
It’s inherently offensive to call either candidates agendas revolutionary because the definition of a revolution is “a radical and pervasive change in society.” Bernie, who screams about “the top one percent” yet rarely touches on race, wouldn’t start a revolution. Hillary, more conservative than most liberals realize, wouldn’t either.
It may seem like a woman in the Oval Office would be galvanizing for the feminist movement, but Clinton doesn’t seem to have a hard time bombing the innocent women of nations that she urges need education for their daughters. That doesn’t scream “feminism” to me.
Yet, with or without an understanding of the fact that neither candidate is going to be a savior for America, our policy and the rest of the world, one should be able to recognize that you can’t apply the “slippery slope” fallacy to a woman’s vote. You can’t infer that there was one exclusive motive behind her choice.
People must understand that you can still be pro-woman without standing behind any woman available, and that you can’t portray opposition of Clinton as an abandonment of feminism. To respect women who support Hillary, the world needs to accept the agency and intelligence of women, actively recognizing that women are capable of analyzing policy and making decisions on more than shared gender.
Women deserve not only a vote, but for that vote to be recognized as valid and worthy, so regardless of your gender, stop applying an agenda to a woman’s vote, stop accusing people of casting their vote for a certain reason, and stop deeming female votes illegitimate.
Background Illustration Credit: Jenny Chang / The Foothill Dragon Press