|Vote (M.A. Reilly, 2012)|
I cringe each time I hear a woman qualify her vote. For example, earlier this morning a woman being interviewed on NPR offered, almost apologetically, her admission that she's voting for Hillary Clinton, "not because she's a woman (rather long pause), but because she has so much experience." Since Secretary Clinton began her campaign, the response from many have been to silence gender as if gender in the United States might somehow not be relevant.
Does gender in America not matter?
I voted this afternoon in NJ for Secretary Clinton. I did so, in part, because she is a strong woman and we are deeply in need of a strong, smart, capable, and experienced leader. Hillary Clinton's life speaks clearly to the courageous action she has had to show in order for her to be poised to be our next president. Her victory is a victory for all women, especially for our daughters. That ceiling she is cracking has been in place for as long as there has been the United States and there are a legion of men (and sadly) women who don't want to see it cracked. I say break on through.
We need a woman to lead. It certainly helps that she is also the most qualified of the 18+ candidates who have made a bid for president and truly the most qualified candidate who has run for president in my life time. Advocate for women and children, First Lady of Arkansas and First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. There is no person running for president with these or equal qualifications. No one. And all the recent comments that experience now doesn't matter is more bunk, more examples of how insidious sexism is. If Hillary Clinton were male, the tenor of the primaries would have been different and the derogatory, sexists and often empty rhetoric that has been generated for years would have been silent. Just recall the Benghazi hearings (our tax dollars at work).
Sexism isn't limited to being an interpersonal matter. Rather, it is an institutional one. It is what allows both women and men to report with ease that they will vote for a qualified man they don't "like", but will not do the same for a woman. It is sexist rhetoric that fuels such dispositions like: "I won't vote for Hillary because she's not 'likable.'" or "Clinton is too aggressive" or what I heard last night, "Clinton is flat. She doesn't inspire passion like Bill and Bernie."or " I'm not comfortable with her as president. I would feel safer with ______ (fill in the name of a man)."
One only needs to see the plethora of reports that continue to show that a woman doing the same work as a man in the United States is paid less. Given the lack of movement on current pay gap it will take close to 100 years to close that gap.
100 years. Can your daughters wait that long? Can our country? Can the world?
Sexism is coloring this election as it colors our lives. It is always present. Misogynistic ideology has been given new voice. Katha Pollitt, expressed this well earlier this year in The Nation when she wrote:
Choose Bernie if you like—I won’t say a word against him. But don’t reject the first woman in history who could win the White House because she doesn’t fit your notion of how women should behave. Men put a thumb on the scale for men all the time: It’s called being “gender neutral” while defining leadership in male terms. (Can you imagine a 74-year-old democratic socialist named Bernice Sanders making a run like Bernie? The jokes write themselves.) And overt misogyny still exists. You’ll never persuade me that “Bernie bros”—the men who harass female Hillary supporters with patronizing, insulting, and sometimes-obscene tweets and posts—are just Internet will-o’-the-wisps. But if you want hard numbers, how about this: According to Gallup, 8 percent of people say they would never vote for a qualified woman for president. That’s nearly one in 12 voters. But if one in 12 female primary voters is choosing Hillary because she’s a woman—and not also because she’s experienced, super-smart, shares their values, and looks more likely to win the general—I would be surprised.
Now is the time for a woman to lead and that woman is Hillary Clinton. I look forward to seeing Secretary Clinton become the first President of the United States. I only wish Rob could see this history being made. He would have proudly casted his vote for Hillary today.