March 3, 2008 Leave a comment
Yesterday's Outlook section in the Post featured a number of interesting essays about women and politics. Linda Hirshman (who famously wrote an essay essentially arguing that educated women who choose to stay home with their children are betraying feminism) has an interesting piece decrying the fact that while Blacks and men are busy voting their identity (or demography), women are refusing to vote as a monolithic bloc. She argues, that only if women realized this necessity to vote based purely on gender, can the political oppression of women be overcome and, of course, we get the byproduct of President Hillary Clinton. This snippet of the essay in particular, really bugged me:
And there we have one of the most puzzling conundrums of the 2008
Democratic contests. Black voters of all socioeconomic classes are
voting for the black candidate. Men are voting for the male candidate
regardless of race or class. But even though this is also a year with
the first major female presidential candidate, women are split every
way they can be. They're the only voting bloc not voting their bloc.
For the Clinton campaign, this is devastating. A year ago, chief strategist Mark Penn proclaimed that the double-X factor was going to catapult his candidate all the way to the White House.
Instead, the women's vote has fragmented. The only conclusion: American
women still aren't strategic enough to form a meaningful political
movement directed at taking power. Will they ever be?
I would strongly argue that the fact that women choose to evaluate the candidates on their merits rather than vote for Hillary in lockstep is a good thing. Women are a lot more than just their gender and, of course, have myriad personal circumstances that go so beyond their biological sex. Many of them have made the eminently reasonable determination that this country (and presumably them) would be better served with Obama (or even McCain) as president, rather than Hillary Clinton. From my perspective, it is this sort of elitist, “I know what's best for women” feminism, that gives feminsim a bad name (and I say this as a publicly-admitted feminist).