I will vote for a woman, but only when the right one comes along.
When women say they are going to vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman, to me that is identity politics at its worst. It is putting the value of a female president over the value of a president with your values. Instead of joining the ranks of some older feminists who are eager to see a female president for the first time in the US, I personally opt for a candidate who captures my imagination with promises of political revolution.
While many older women are thrilled to see a woman having a shot at the presidency during their lifetime, for me, gender matters less. For me, “women’s issues,” as they’re classically defined, are taking a back seat to a much broader understanding of the term. Voting “gender first” is asking people to separate themselves from their other identities. If you’re asking me to put my gender first, you’re asking me to ignore my sexuality. If you’re asking me to put my gender first, you’re asking me to ignore my ethnicity and culture. How can you ask me to separate them from each other when all of those things work together to create one person?
My vision of feminism connects multiple forms of discrimination, like sexism and xenophobia, and talks about how they work together, something that’s referred to as “intersectional” feminism. This more layered understanding of identity puts me at odds with Hilary Clinton. Clinton’s brand of feminism is based on middle-class white women, and focused on making progress within the current system. Today’s brand of young feminists wants to disrupt it.
Clinton stands at the apex of the establishment pyramid, one that is entrenched in the power politics of Washington, far removed from the average young American. She’s just another politician, and that class as a whole should not be trusted. I think that youth in this country – particularly young women, women of color – deserve more than just what the current establishment has been providing for years. And I think Hillary Clinton really represents that establishment. I don’t see her being a woman in charge affecting a lot of the women who I know in a positive way.
As a feminist, I identify a wide variety of issues that weigh on my election choices: economic equality, finance reform, racial justice and criminal justice, climate change, foreign policy, and education. This isn’t to say I don’t care about advancing women’s rights – I just define them much more broadly. “Women’s issues” are inextricably wrapped in all of these other problems.
Bernie Sanders, with his platform of economic and social justice, simply connects more deeply with my multi-layered concerns. I am willing to look past just being the “first” because it has now to be about “more”.