Voting for Bernie Sanders doesn’t make you sexist. That is an unfounded and hurtful aspersion to cast upon many of the good people of the Democratic Party. You are already sexist.
There are many great reasons for not voting for Hillary Clinton that are unrelated to her gender. There are brilliant feminists who work every day to prevent Clinton from becoming President because they do not believe she is the best person for the job.
You are probably not one of those people. You are probably sexist. I don’t care if you’re a former Girl Scout who took all the money you made selling cookies and donated it to Planned Parenthood and then set your bra on fire to keep disadvantaged young women warm while they studied astrophysics. You’re a sexist because you were born in a country that was developed by men for the purpose of keeping men in charge.
Of course you can consider the abilities and experiences of Sanders and Clinton and choose Sanders. You just shouldn’t arrive at that decision without considering your inherent sexism and how it effects how you view each candidate.
You shouldn’t decide without considering that as we vanquish sexism through legislation that protects women’s bodies and pay-checks, it simply slips underground. But just because inequality can’t always be represented by dollars or studies doesn’t mean it’s not real, present, and hurting women. As the chains that bind women to antiquated ideals become weaker, they also become less visible.
I can’t prove that sexism plays into your dislike of Hillary Clinton. It’s just that if when you say that she is “sneaky, bitchy, tricky, bossy, self-obsessed, power-hungry, abrasive, and unfriendly” I can’t tell if we’re a) doing a cool modern retelling of the Salem witch trials, b) using every negative descriptor and stereotype that has ever been applied to women, or c) talking about reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton.
Of course, it would be much easier to prove the effect of sexism if Clinton had such a flawless career history that only sexism could account for her failure to become president. Instead she has made poor decisions, stumbled, and sometimes failed. She shouldn’t have to be sterling for us to admit that she has suffered from explicit and implicit sexism. Isn’t our demand that Clinton be above reproach before she be seen as a victim of sexism damning evidence enough?
I expect Republicans to use straightforward sexism to bring down Clinton. More surprising is the insidious sexism Democrats have employed to diminish her. Within a Clinton detractor’s worldview her lifelong defense of women’s rights becomes not a credential but a noose that tightens around her neck every time she “panders” to fifty percent of America’s population.
One of the most qualified people in history is running for President, coming closer than any woman has ever come to succeeding. Yet the conversation has turned from her historic feat to yet another male harangue about how women should behave. Every other thinkpiece on my newsfeed blares some iteration of, “You don’t have to vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman.”
What is it that people think will happen if women vote for a candidate they feel reflects them? Women might get more rights?
What lunacy could lead any person to believe that women have the power or desire to choose the next president based solely on gender? If that were true we might now be bidding fond farewell to a Palin presidency.
This primary season The Daily Show Trevor Noah and Jessica Williams criticized “both sides” for “dragging gender into this”. Susan Sarandon announced that she would be casting her vote for Sanders because “I don’t vote with my vagina.”
I do not have the luxury of voting without my vagina in mind. Since my male dominant government rarely considers the health or the rights of my vagina, I have to. Hillary Clinton has a long history of voting with her vagina, much longer than Sanders, not simply because he is vagina-less but because he has not devoted his career to bettering the lives of women and girls. America’s vaginas are not a side issue. Women’s rights are the issue that pertains to everyone in the world.
The state of American feminism seems to be not a wave so much as a monsoon founded on the idea that women have greater freedom of choice than ever before. We can choose to work or stay home, to have sex or abstain, to wear makeup or to go barefaced, and each of these choices are independent and right for different people. But the idea that these options represent total ‘freedom’ is predicated on the wildly utopian belief that women’s choices aren’t still entirely influenced by a patriarchal culture. Until true gender equality rules it will be impossible to call behavior founded only on male domination true freedom of choice.
Refusing to acknowledge the reality of patriarchal forces on everything from consumerism to our political candidates in favor of celebrating a sense of freedom which does not fully exist only causes us to make decisions that sexists hoped we would make in the first place. First we’re screwed by sexism our whole lives, and then we’re screwed by our misunderstood notions of feminism.
We’re trying to live post-feminist lives in a world that needs feminism more than ever. Hillary Clinton’s difficult road to the presidency exemplifies this.
For months now, Bernie fans have been telling me not to vote with my vagina. Telling a woman what to do with her vagina? Steady on, you sound like a Republican.