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What Hillary Clinton means for feminism

Feminist Current has published a fantastic article by Marie Crosswell entitled Hillary Clinton is the embodiment of liberalism, not feminism. I urge you to read it. Everything from the title to the well-argued points are exactly what feminism needs right now. I wanted to add a few points of my own to bolster the great case that Crosswell has made and to put another much-needed article of dissent out there. Nothing I’m saying is original. This started out as a comment posted on the site in response to liberals but I decided it needed its own space.

 

“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women.” – Hillary Clinton [source]

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

It’s the job of feminists to critique and analyze every supposed representative of our movement. Women haven’t died and made incalculable sacrifices so that modern feminists could make excuses and settle for half-assed solutions to the domination of our species by males. We need to carry these women’s work on our shoulders and prove that it wasn’t all in vain. Feminists are having to learn this lesson over and over and over again because the movement coddles people who can’t think beyond their knee-jerk denial.

The question simmering beneath the debate is simply this: Who are you here to defend; one woman or all women?

Patriarchy runs down to the core of this rotten society. It requires a radical solution. At what point do we realize we’re decorating a tree that needs to be taken down? We know the system has many tentacles that women often only have the time or energy to focus on individually. Hillary Clinton is not one of those people. She’s white, rich, and powerful. She’s smart. She could be a formidable force but she has chosen to mold her politics to a template that does not work, and I doubt very much that she doesn’t know that. She could have decided to extricate herself from a party that recently decided, extending the DOJ well beyond its legal mandate, that sex-based protections under Title IX mean nothing because some men have confused the stereotype of femininity with the material reality of womanhood itself. Whoever can’t see how damaging this is – that it is the erasure of females as a distinct class of people whose needs should be protected – needs to call whatever it is they’re doing something other than feminism.

The question of just how feminist Hillary Clinton is has been articulately laid out by many feminists, but some people don’t think they need to internalize that info because Clinton supports abortion. How many feminist-identified politicians are against it? When you’re done counting to zero, ask yourself whether you want to keep running on this hamster wheel. Liberals are never willing to face the ugly truth and stand up for real change – and that’s dangerous.

You might have good reasons for voting for Clinton and we can certainly appreciate the good things she’s said and done. I for one will be celebrating when (I hope) she kicks Trump’s ass and outshines her own philandering husband. But none of these things make her worthy of being the face of feminism. Can we finally admit Clinton’s limitations and instead set our focus on doing the work that we know only we are willing to do?

The world has seen a number of female leaders. Thatcher broke that glass ceiling a long time ago in the U.K. How much of a difference did that make for women? She wasn’t a feminist by any means, so it’s not an apt comparison on that level. But she was a neoliberal – a capitalist individualist – whose policies weren’t so different from those endorsed by Clinton all these years. A leader’s support for women shows not only in the comments they make explicitly about women but also in their policy, particularly as it concerns education and the economy, since these areas are key drivers of sex-based inequality under the current system. Being the most exposed and least valued, women are the first to suffer, forced into work that even the poorest men can avoid, along with the risk of unwanted pregnancy and their role (voluntary or not) as the primary carers of children and other family members.

Stopping at reproductive rights leaves a huge gap that fails to address the cause of sexual violence (masculinity) or the ways in which women who are further marginalized because of their ethnic backgrounds, disability, civic status, etc. are coerced into making impossible ‘choices’. As quoted above, she’s said that she doesn’t even understand why all of this is happening. I too want to believe her heart is in the right place but the depth of her ignorance is disappointing and her contradictions form a clear pattern.

An impressive list of countries including India, Guyana, Mali, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Argentina, Indonesia, Liberia, Philippines, Malawi, and Brazil have elected female heads of state. I think it’s important to ask how the lives of women and girls have changed as a result. For instance, what has Angela Merkel in Germany done for female victims of violence, not only at the hands of immigrant gangs but also at the hands of white German men who prey on poor women who are often trafficked from economically depressed regions, in mega brothels? One of the fascinating bits of history revealed in the Ascent of Woman BBC series is that women have taken power many times throughout human history, some of whom used that power to help their sisters while others didn’t or couldn’t. Worse yet, neither Canada nor the U.S. have managed to elect a woman as prime minister or president. So I absolutely want to see that happen.

Ultimately, it’s a trademark liberal strategy to fool the optimistic ranks into believing that a token woman in a powerful position is a sign of fundamental change. Does it make anything more than a little dent in patriarchy? It sure does enrage MRAs to think of a woman representing a state that they believe should be protecting their own privileges. And it gives many women and girls hope. Leaving aside the question of the degree to which a U.S. president is a true leader rather than a figurehead, having a woman in that role means something. The problem is that the liberal elite are very good at exploiting this something, blowing it out of proportion, and hoping that women will be content with it because they didn’t get stuck with an openly fascist president whose hatred of women is part of his appeal.

Women can’t afford to fall for the spectacle. The good news is that feminism is not one woman, and it remains up to all of us, as it always has, to overcome male power.

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Are American students so evil that they support after-birth abortions?

Apparently, a lot of people readily believe that folks are so morally corrupt that they support the legalization of after-birth abortions. Is this where young people now figure on the issue of abortion? Well, some conservative groups certainly want us to think so – and they will go so far as to set up unsuspecting students in order to manufacture that belief.

There’s a story being bounced around the internet about students in Virginia who signed a petition. The article (WATCH: Students sign petition to legalize abortion after childbirth), which is published by Campus Reform and reposted by Freedom Outpost, explains:

The petition, which was circulated on GMU [George Mason University]’s flagship campus in Fairfax, VA., just outside Washington D.C., by Media Research Center reporter Dan Joseph said it was aimed at sending “a message to our lawmakers that women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and babies” even “after their pregnancies.”

As of today, 35,000 people have ‘liked’ the article on Facebook, 4,500 have tweeted it and almost 1,100 have posted it to Reddit.

I don’t know about them, but my thought process went like this:

  1. An organization is petitioning to legalize the abortion of birthed babies? That sounds way too outrageous and therefore not very credible.
  2. Why would an organization such as Media Research Center, whose website states that it is committed to “neutralizing left-wing bias in the news media and popular culture” and whose work is “unique within the conservative movement”, be asking university students to sign such a petition?

Note that these aren’t even moderate conservatives. We’re talking about the sort of conservatives who proudly quote Ann Coulter. Campus Reform prides itself as “America’s leading site for college news” and a watchdog that “exposes bias, abuse, waste, and fraud on the nation’s college campuses”. It is a self-disclosed project of the Leadership Institute, a group which itself is remarkably more explicit about how it leans. The Institute, according to its website, “teaches conservative Americans how to influence policy through direct participation, activism, and leadership.” Freedom Outpost, for its part, actually doesn’t have a link or section on its website explaining its mission, goals or philosophy, but a quick scan of its content reveals it to be a virtual GOP troll cave.

We’ve all heard (and hopefully heeded) the warning that some things can appear too good to be true; conversely, some things can appear too bad to be true. One of my favourite Judge Judyisms is that if a story doesn’t make sense, either important information is missing, or someone is misrepresenting the facts. In this case, it’s the latter.

Here’s the video of how the Media Research Center petition went down:

While posing as an archetypal pro-choice hippie, MRC’s Dan Joseph managed to scrounge all of 14 signatures in an hour. But many of the people who commented on this story here couldn’t seem to agree on the meaning of the term ‘fourth trimester’, which actually refers to the period after the baby is born. This period is also referred to as post-pregnancy, which, who knows, maybe some people might even take to mean the time after a woman becomes pregnant. At any rate, Joseph doesn’t bother explaining this to the students (one of whom is aged 15) who were caught off guard and probably thinking about their destinations. The few people who declined to sign were the only ones who seemed to be paying attention. In one instance a young lady asks if this type of abortion will cause harm to the child, to which Joseph replies: “Well, the child wouldn’t be there anymore, it’s abortion.” She proceeds to sign. Does she understand that he’s talking about killing a newborn baby? Probably not.

Aside from the fact that these signatures are the products of ignorance and manipulation, the exercise was pointless. A straw man was fabricated to sensationalize an idea that’s not even remotely being considered by anyone. These groups are essentially saying, “Several university students signed a petition that they may or may not have realized calls for the legalized sacrifice of newborns; therefore abortion is wrong!” I would be laughing at the tantrums people are throwing if it wasn’t so embarrassing and frankly, scary, that countless people are so eager to believe something that’s obviously fictitious.

The MRC petition represents neither the true values of young Americans, nor the modern secular liberal decay of morality. All it shows is that:

  • Some college students aren’t against abortion in general;
  • If you catch strangers off guard while they’re trying to get somewhere and you target people who are still maturing, they will do and say dumb things; and
  • People are easily manipulated when they’re misinformed and assume others are being honest and serving a good cause.

All of which we already know.

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