It's been kind of impossible, this year, to stay out of politics. It's a polarizing year, to be sure. I know that I have personally been having many more conversations about politics than I typically would be at this point in an election cycle. It is, simply, very dramatic.
I was interested in a conversation that my mom and I had yesterday regarding Hillary Clinton. I asked my mom why she thought that Clinton wasn't playing up the "first female president" angle more than she is, which is to say, really not at all.
We talked about how gratified black people were to see a black candidate, and how many people came out to vote just to vote for a black person. How far we seemed to have come to have a black president.
So why are women not feeling the same about Hillary Clinton? I wondered.
My mom said that she thought some of it was a generational thing. She said that women of my generation don't really know what struggles women in her generation, and previous generations before, went through to get where we are today.
I don't know that that's true, exactly. I don't know any woman who would say that she was ignorant of how far women have come in the last hundred years. We are educated women, after all. Did I personally protest for women's voting rights? No, of course not, but neither did my mom.
Then she said that the Clinton campaign had kind of started doing some of that marketing in the beginning, by getting Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinhem to rally with her, berating young women for not supporting Hillary Clinton, saying that we think that the work for women is done, but it's not. We think we're there, but there's still work to be done. "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other."
This turned off a lot of young women and, to be honest, it turns me off too. The campaign backed off from the feminist stand at that point.
Here's what I think:
I know that women are not equal, yet, but we are certainly a lot closer to it than black people are. We're not getting shot by cops, and I don't fear for my life if Donald Trump becomes president. I fear for abortion rights, but not my life. I fear for rape victims, for LGBTQ rights, for disability rights, but not my life.
I think young women are smart. They're (we're) interested in politics, but they (we) are not going to look at a candidate based on gender alone. We're smarter than that. If Clinton wins the nomination, I have no doubt that women will flock to her in droves. But Bernie's not exactly an anti-feminist himself. He's a pretty attractive candidate, even to a girl.
Women don't exactly like to be told what to do, Madeleine Albright. You know that. How dare you condescend the very group that you're trying to lift up? Maybe it's a semantics issue, and I can see how angry she is about it, but still. YOU gave us the right to be smart, assertive women who think for themselves. You can implore us to vote for Clinton, but you can't force us. We have minds, thank you, and we'll make them up for ourselves.
So, many women are starting to forget that Clinton is even a woman, that this would/should be a good reason to vote for her. Myself included, really.
But then today, after so many primaries, I see article after article about journalists asking Clinton to smile more, to stop yelling. The articles have a good point: would these same people be asking Trump to stop yelling? (Probably, they'd like to.)
It reminds me that Clinton is not actually having a good go at this. She's clawing her way there, and I do respect that. She's not playing the woe is me feminist card: look how hard it is to break through to the boys' club. She's freaking earning it. While we mock the wrinkles on her face and critique the color of her blouse, she grins and bears it, just like any woman, every woman, has had to.
If it ends up to be Clinton v. Trump, I hope that her campaign is ready to dial up the feminist aspect. The media has already proven how degrading Trump is to women. I hope that Clinton's got some balls of steel ready to throw back at him.
To be honest, I think she might be the woman to do it.
(To be fair, I voted for Bernie yesterday. But I'll vote for Clinton if she's nominated. As a woman, I cannot, in good faith, vote any other way.)