Undeniably, Hillary Clinton has faced obstacles simply because she is a woman. She has experienced countless ad hominem attacks from the media and other politicians throughout her career. She has been scrutinized to a greater extent than her male colleagues, as evidenced by the excessive number of Benghazi hearings and the long-term media fixation on her emails last year, both of which have turned up nothing inculpatory.
Despite all of that, Clinton became the first First Lady to hold elected office and the first woman to be elected to the Senate in New York. From 2009 to 2013, she held one of the highest ranking offices in the U.S. government as secretary of state. When she began her presidential campaign in 2015, Clinton was positioned to be one of the most inevitable candidates in American history. Now, things are starting to look a little different.
Clinton is the closest we have ever come to electing a woman president in the 227 years of the Office. And while many are excited by the prospect, that feeling doesn’t always translate to younger voters. In the New Hampshire primary, for example, Bernie Sanders won 53 percent of the female vote, and 82 percent of the vote among females are under 30. Though Clinton has strong support among women, a large portion of that is white women over 30. But Clinton’s role in American politics — and feminism — looks a lot different to younger generations than it does to Clinton’s.
Marcelena Menard, a junior at Mills, says she is sympathetic to the sexism Clinton faces, but that doesn’t affect her decision in not wanting to vote for her.
“To me, she represents outdated, exclusionary feminism. I don’t support her and won’t vote for her even if she gets the nomination,” Mernard said.
Among liberals, Clinton’s whiteness, affluence and heteronormativity identify her as much as her gender does. Many intersectional feminists believe that the progress Clinton has made through her political work is limited to other white, middle to upper class women.
Her gender doesn’t hold the same inspiring message as Obama’s hope or Sanders’ revolution among young voters, who generally have a much more progressive view of gender than preceding generations. For Mills sophomore and feminist Sydney Van Sinden, this election is about policy more than anything else. “I’m a Bernie supporter because he’s the only candidate who doesn’t seem to be playing a capitalistic, political game. Hillary, despite being an awesome woman, is too moderate for my taste,” Van Sinden said.
While some feminists fully align themselves with Clinton or insist that beggars can’t be choosers in the struggle to get a woman elected president, I would argue Clinton’s gender should not (and most likely will not) play a determinant role in winning the election. In recent months of the 2016 presidential race, Clinton’s perceived stronghold on the democratic nomination, and eventually the presidency itself, has begun to dissolve. Though she has a strong lead in delegates over Sanders, that is not enough to guarantee her the nomination, especially considering the momentum Sanders’ campaign has, winning seven of the eight latest primary elections.
No matter who gets the nomination, if they are elected in November, history will be made. Exactly what that history will be, at least for the time being, is anyone’s guess.