The following is a adapted from a letter I sent out to some women who have long been feminist touchstones for me. One was my mother, a weaver and retired early childhood educator, the other is a former Dean and retired professor at the University of Vermont and the third a friend-from-childhood who teaches high school English.
I just read an article (see below) and I thought you might find it interesting as well. I’m not sure how much any of you have been following, but Gloria Steinem really put her foot in her mouth the other day by saying (on late night TV) that young, female Sanders supporters are only supporting him because boys are, and girls “want to be where boys are” and then she was followed up by Madeline Albright at a Clinton rally, who essentially told women they’re going to hell for not supporting Hillary, because there is “a special place… for women who do not help each other.” There is certainly a gap here, and I’m curious what you all think about it.
I’ll never forget my Women in the Law professor YELLING at us, slamming her fists on the table, when the 8 women taking her class all agreed that a woman who chose to “stay in the home”, as long as it was her free and clear choice, was exercising her rights as a person and that it was not problematic for us to see such a woman as a feminist and we certainly didn’t think she was rowing the wrong way down the river. She was horrified that we felt that way, and insisted that any woman “in the home” had essentially counted herself out of the fight for equality, and worse, was actively working against women.
I think that a similar disagreement is before us. I believe that many young women feel that it’s their right as equals to NOT have to consider the gender of our leaders as pivotal, and that tokenism is dangerous and leads to a false sense of progress. Even as “thought leaders” declared that we live in a post-racial society because we have a black president the plague of police brutality against black people went on unchecked. I don’t mean to say that Hillary, a tireless leader and warrior for herself and women, is a token politician, I mean to say that I do not believe that voting her into office will result in a balm of equality to finally soothe our suffering.
I also believe that the intersection of class has become far more prominent for young women. My peers have (thanks entirely to the fighting of women before us) very few stories of slap-on-the-ass sexism but have many examples of class inequality as well as the experience of the 2008 Great Recession. It is college loans that women point to when talking about why they haven’t bought a home or new car, not a chauvinist mortgage loan officer who wants a man to co-sign. Because both Bernie and Hillary are feminists, and he supports a woman’s right to choose and pay equity it’s harder to see what women lose by electing Bernie. Bernie’s no-holds-barred attacks on Wall Street resonate with an angry and disenfranchised population who see the 1% as the oppressor. A gendered oppressor certainly, but not one that is pointedly anti-women.