Not to make this a “pile on Hillary” kind of weekend, but a quote I saw a week or so ago has been nagging at me.
To feminist writer Linda Hirshman, Clinton’s likely defeat signals a harsh reality that future female candidates will need to consider.
“It shows how fragile the loyalty and commitment of women to a female candidate is. That’s a pretty scary thing,” says Hirshman. “She can count on the female electorate to divide badly and not be reliable.”
That’s a definition of feminism that I don’t understand. In act, it sounds a lot more like essentialism. As a woman who has spent a good portion of her life making her way in male-dominated fields – and as a Jew, to boot – I have an extreme distaste for any ideology that assumes that group characteristics are identical and unalterable.
And yet …. it would make me happy to see a woman elected President, I can’t lie. It would also make me happy to see a Jewish President, although frankly I think that’s even less likely to happen in my lifetime. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m going to put gender or religious characteristics ahead of everything else on the table. Especially when it comes to something as important as a Presidential election.
I’m one of the first generation of American women to be born and raised in a world where women actually had the option to escape the constraints they’d previously been limited to. Is that why I do not feel the pull of identity politics? I consider myself a feminist. Does being a “good” feminist mean that I must vote for a woman candidate solely because of her gender? I don’t think so, but clearly some other women do.
How did things get to this place? And more important, can we fix it?