I've read more than a few opinions in the past few days from other feminists defending their support for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Especially in the wake of comments made by Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright. (Although, in Albright's defense, she was just repeating a catchphrase that she's used for years -with awkward timing- that we, who haven't been paying attention, had not heard.)
Where I get annoyed is when the feminists try to argue that Bernie is a better feminist. Or that, feminism is not so important to them that they will support "just any" woman (as if Hillary Clinton is the same as any other woman off the street). I love the ones who argue that feminism gives them the right to choose. Yes. It does. But, and this is where women my age tend to differ from the younger generation, the gen-X feminist or Boomer feminist will look at two qualified candidates and choose the woman. Because she's a woman.
Yep. I said it. If there are two people applying for a job who are equally qualified --and no matter what your feelings personally, you have to agree that of all the candidates' job experience, Hillary Clinton is singularly qualified, but let's just say two people are equally qualified-- a feminist will always choose the woman. We need all the help we can get to even out the playing field. I fully admit to doing this on every ballot I've ever cast. All else-being equal, I always select the woman. For every job from city council to Supreme Court judge.
Alternately, feminist Bernie supporters argue how similar their positions are to Bernie's and how terrible Hillary is ("Corporate shill" they rant while sipping on their Starbucks macchiatos.)
But they fail to note two things.
First, Hillary's positions are not drastically different from Bernie's; they are just more modest. Hillary wants to subsidize college education to make it more affordable. Bernie wants to make it free. Hillary wants to improve on the framework of Obamacare to move it more toward a single-payer gradually. Bernie wants to overturn it with single-payer.
And all that corporate money collected by the DNC? Does Bernie give it back if he gets the nomination? Will it sully his candidacy? No? Only Hillary's? Hmm.
Secondly, all of the arguments against Hillary are based on over two decades of sexism played out in the media. We have a psychic image of Hillary as sleazy, or underhanded, or vicious, or Machiavellian all because of public partisan attacks that have added up to a giant NOTHING of wrongdoing but have somehow sullied her in our eyes. The people that supported Hillary back in 1993, still support her. Because she's smart and competent and not the evil incarnate that some people in the past have suggested. But unfortunately, because she is a woman who was subjected to endless media scrutiny from the time Bill entered the presidential race in 1992, we have no collective memory of her as a decent, remarkable person.
As and example, we see her time on the Board of Directors for Walmart as a black mark because of the pariah Walmart has become but fail to remember that 25 years ago, Walmart was not seen as an evil empire and Hillary's work on their board forced them to promote women to management positions that those women would not have gotten without her advocacy.
Most of the millennial women who are so fervently supporting Bernie Sanders are aware of Hillary Clinton only through the lens of the sexism and politics she's been forced to wade through. She has a sheen of grime from all she had endured and that is being held against her still. She didn't come to the race with only a voting record in the Senate and a strong tenure as Secretary of State. Those alone qualify her for the job of president. The fact that she mastered them as a woman makes her the better choice for feminists.
If you consider yourself a feminist, but prefer to support Bernie, that's fine. I can understand voters of either gender finding his message appealing and feminists come in all stripes and colors. But if you want to argue that feminism is very important to you, that it defines you, you ought to put your ballot where your mouth is. You can't purport to be a hard-core feminist and dismiss a candidate as competent and intelligent as Hillary Clinton.