A Feminist Argument Against Hillary Clinton
by Nikki Camera
From the New York Times to the mouths of so-called "feminist" icons, young women have been consistently criticized for not supporting Hillary Clinton in her bid for president. The first example comes from a December 2015 article addressing the generational gap between women voters. The article asserts that older women understand sexism, and younger women just think "the pipeline will magically fill up with women who are qualified enough to run for president." Firstly, no evidence is given to support this, except the apparently "shameful" younger women quoted who are not supporting Clinton. The article goes on to insult the intelligence of younger women, saying we would come to our senses and vote for Clinton as soon as we "engage more in the election and pay attention more to what the G.O.P. is doing and how out of touch they are." This article received severe criticism, as it deserves, by websites like Feministing. While this is somewhat old news, it sets the stage for the discussion that very much needs to be had: what are the reasons for this aversion to Clinton?
In more recent news, the Clinton campaign has furthered this narrative that women should be "ashamed" for not supporting her, or just have not been informed enough to realize she's the choice for women. This was explicitly shown in the recent actions of Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, both of whom are largely considered feminist role models. Madeleine Albright recently repeated her famous quote at a Clinton rally: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other," referring to women not supporting the Clinton campaign. Also, Gloria Steinem recently went on Real Talk with Bill Maher and said that women who support Bernie are likely doing so to get the attention of boys. Both of these statements attempt to coerce women into supporting Hillary through shame, rather than encouraging women to think and choose for themselves. There is no question how problematic both of these statements were.
Thus, this great paradox haunting feminist dialogue simply says women need to vote for Hillary to be feminist while at the same being un-feminist in telling women how they should think. Ultimately, it's a poor political ploy by the Clinton campaign that young women have rightfully rejected. For me, and many other young women, it is not just preferring another candidate to Hillary Clinton, but also actively being against her.
First, let's go back to those remarks from Albright and Steinem. The latter's statement was explicitly sexist and hetero-normative in assuming young women would only involve themselves in politics to get attention from boys. The former, Albright, is especially sexist and hypocritical, given that by the statement's own principle she would also be going to that "special place in hell." The people Clinton associates herself with are an indication of her ideals. Albright managed to attain one of the most powerful positions in the U.S. government as Secretary of State by decimating the lives of Iraqi women and children. She also stated on 60 Minutes that the 500,000+ deaths of Iraqi children, largely orchestrated by her, were "worth it." Somehow, Albright is still considered a feminist icon. Clinton is much like Albright in her indifference towards the lives of minority women.
But what kind of feminism does Clinton represent? Her and Albright have both built their legacies on the backs of minority women, masquerading as feminists who really only care about their interests and those of other rich, powerful, privileged white women. Clinton's background supports this and proves that her entire campaign is hypocritical.
In the beginning, Hillary Clinton was a genuine activist, but that quickly deteriorated as she and Bill sought political power. She stood by and supported Bill Clinton in Arkansas when he instituted the broken-windows style policing we have now finally seen in the media. He continued this agenda when he won the White House, as a Socialist Worker article explains that, "[Bill] Clinton's push to the right bore fruit in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. This bill, authored by Joe Biden at the behest of the White House, established draconian three-strikes laws that sent people away to prison for decades for trivial crimes. It also included "truth in sentencing" provisions that eliminated early parole for huge numbers of prisoners." With this, Clinton further developed the already burgeoning mass incarceration problem in the United States. Hillary explicitly supported Bill's policies that targeted minorities, having used the tired narrative of the "lazy" Americans on welfare just looking to live off the government. This dialogue completely ignores that communities with a lot of welfare recipients also have some of the LOWEST unemployment rates—it is not the people, but the system, which the Clintons so emphatically support.
Today, Clinton finds it advantageous to reject her past beliefs and put on the mask of a true progressive. While she meets with Black leaders and continues to proclaim herself as the ultimate advocate for women, she has received donations from private prisons and support Israel, whose bombing campaigns in Palestine have killed thousands of women and children. This is the real Hillary Clinton, and young women are tired of being forced to see her as the only option. She claims to oppose Wall Street greed while her top four donors are parts of it: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, DLA Piper (law firm for Fortune 500 corporations), and JPMorgan Chase. Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers also make her "top ten" donors. As I, and many young women just like me see it, Hillary is not the candidate for women minorities like she claims to be. She continuously supports and buttresses a capitalist system that systematically oppresses the aforementioned groups.
Ultimately, this is not a matter of whether we prefer someone over her, but that we are actively against her, because for many women, Clinton's brand of feminism doesn’t work. Feminism is fundamentally intersectional with race and class and supports the liberation of all human beings—not just the ones as privileged as ourselves.