Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maybe There Is One Good Thing About Hillary Clinton

New York Magazine writer Amanda Fortini released an interesting article last week entitled “The Feminist Reawakening: Hillary Clinton and the Fourth Wave.” As a staunch Obama supporter, I find Clinton unappealing both politically and personally. But the article brings up some pressing issues nonetheless.

The fourth wave feminist movement that Fortini speaks of has been harshly divided between sects of feminists. These divisions are most obviously felt among different age groups.

I consider myself a neo-feminist. I want equality for women, sure, but I differ from traditional feminists in that I believe sex can give women power, not solely take it away from them. Young women in their 20s, like myself, almost overwhelmingly support Obama in the upcoming election. This fosters a lot of resentment from old-time feminists, the women who fought to win us the rights we enjoy today, who believe that we should vote for Clinton because we are women. In their opinion, we should appreciate Clinton as the first woman presidential contender - something they made possible by decrying gender inequality - and show solidarity in voting for her because of our gender.

But I disagree. The true feminist would consider Clinton as sharply as the other male candidates. If we are truly fighting for equality in all realms of public and private life, then Clinton should be held to the same standards as her male opponents.

The trouble is that she’s not. A distasteful sexism that had long laid dormant beneath the surface of society erupted the day Clinton announced her candidacy, and sexists have been taking vicious swipes at her ever since. The most potent and obvious example hailed from New Hampshire, a typically liberal place, where two assholes shouted, “Iron my shirt!” during one of Clinton’s campaign speeches. This is an egregious example, yes, but there are others that signal that feminism has failed to accomplish its goals as well as we may have hoped. A more subtle example is the fact that newscasters call Clinton by her first name, and all the other (male) candidates by their last.

Even though I hate Hillary Clinton, I have to admit she’s forced to mount hurdles that the other contenders don’t. She must publicly attempt to reconcile the female stereotypes of the Madonna and the Whore. And not only that, she’s up against another battle simply because she wants a place of power in our society: Clinton has to reconcile between femininity and masculinity. If she is too masculine, she runs the risk of becoming a target for hateful slurs that condemn her lack of womanliness. But if she is too feminine, voters won’t consider her qualified enough to sustain the tough and harrowing job of President.

Even though Hillary and Obama remain locked in a fight that has the potential to further ravage the Democratic party and allow old, white war veteran McCain to swoop in and win another presidency for the Republicans, you have to admit that Hillary’s persistence bodes well for feminism. If anything, it is finally once again bringing women’s issues to the forefront and allowing them to be examined, discussed, and hopefully some day, adequately resolved.



Jess and Josh said...

Isn't it possible that reporters call Clinton by her last name because we already had a Clinton president? I know, "Obama versus Clinton" should make it clear that the Clinton in question is Hillary as opposed to her husband, but I think they feel that too many people would read "Clinton" as a reference to Bill. Hillary makes their intention explicit.

I agree that (Hillary) Clinton faces many sexist hurdles in her race for the White House. I'm just being nitpicky.

Whatever, Hillary needs to cut this campaign crap and go make me a sandwich. A democracy sandwich, in which a delicious slice of freedom is nestled comfortably between pieces of security and rampant capitalism.

Mazi said...

Yes..I was going to mention the possible Bill mix-up...also her own campaign swag says "Hillary" to appeal to women and all that actually non-egalatarian bull shit, so don't blame the media so quickly. Also, I don't McCain will be doing any swooping at his age.

Marshall said...

Sure he will. John McCain is actually a bird of prey. Notice they never say his plane was shot down in Vietnam, just him.

Jess and Josh said...

I thought about that whole calling her Clinton because of Bill, but it's like, no one's talking about Bill. They're talking about Hillary. We're not dumb. We can figure it out. Especially because articles and TV shows always show pictures.

Jess and Josh said...

But good point about her using her first name for her campaign! God I hate her