Female Voters Not So Quick To Back Hillary Clinton: A Matter Of White Feminism

By Julia Dunn on February 15, 2016

Now that there is a woman in the running to become the first female President of the United States, one might predict that a high percentage of female millennial voters would support her winning the race. However, this is proving untrue as millennials increase their skepticism of presidential candidates and factor feminism into their thought processes.

A recent CNN article stated that “64 percent of women Democratic voters younger than 45 backed Bernie Sanders, while just 35 percent supported Clinton, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist College poll in New Hampshire last week.” Females are more aligned with Bernie for his commitment to inclusivity and authenticity.

Some citizens wonder if it is problematic to say “I’m voting for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman.” Is there some type of underlying obligation for female voters to vote for the only female candidate? And is Hillary Clinton the most feminist choice for president because she is female?

Image Via Wikipedia Commons

Feminists have declared that these notions are the total opposite of intersectional feminism, but rather “a peak example of the problem with “white feminism:” demanding allegiance without making a case for why women should be loyal.”

Simply put, there is a substantial difference between voting for Clinton because she’s a woman versus voting for Clinton because a voter believes she is qualified for the job. The diminishing of Clinton down to her gender is inherently problematic in its shallow sexism.

As of now, young women voters prefer Sanders to Clinton by as many as 19 points.

The lack of female support for Hillary Clinton as compared to a male candidate such as Bernie Sanders reflects that a majority of eligible female voters aren’t buying into the pseudo-feminist idea that women should vote for Clinton because she’s a woman and her election would change political history forever. There also seems to be a misconception that Hillary Clinton will better serve and support the female population in the U.S. because she herself is female, which disregards any of her credentials as well as those of other candidates. Again, many voters believe Bernie Sanders has the most feminist track record of all the candidates.

Some female millennial voters who support Bernie Sanders for president have received criticism for their choice, likely stemming from an assumption that they are betraying their fellow women by not voting for Clinton.

A statement Gloria Steinem made on “Real Time With Bill Maher” quickly spread throughout mainstream media: “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.”

Upon seeing reactions to the statement, Steinem apologized for her having “misspoke” on the talk show.

Millennial voters know now more than ever that their voices make a powerful and noticeable impact when used all at once. Given the chaotic state of our country in many arenas, voters of all genders — not just females — are alarmed by politicians’ failure to address their pressing concerns. Public university tuition rates, support for low-income communities, reproductive rights issues, immigration and undocumented students’ access to services, police brutality and economic inequality are among many issues that voters need represented in presidential campaign platforms.

Clinton has expressed awareness that she must work harder to secure votes from young adults, especially females. She stated, “I accept the fact that I have work to do to convey what I stand for, what I’ve accomplished, what I want to do for young people in our country.”

For centuries, the idea of a female president has been romanticized so much that a portion of U.S. residents may think that this election will automatically and easily solve many other problems regarding inequality. This is similar to the assumption that racial inequality would become a thing of the past when Barack Obama was running for president.

Harvard Law student Lorena Aviles, a Harvard Law student quoted in New York Magazine, says “Why should an undocumented, hardworking mother find in Hillary an ally for the trials she faces? How does the election of Hillary ease the horrors black families, and mothers specifically, experience given the context of police brutality against bodies of color?”

Aviles’ point highlights the necessity of keeping all minoritized groups in mind during the next election. If a woman president is elected, not all target groups will be able to see their identities and struggles reflected in or addressed by Clinton. While no one president can necessarily accommodate every U.S. citizen in a big way, it is crucial to think critically about why a presidential candidate has your vote.

Above all, millennials have the potential to elect or not elect the candidate that will serve them most directly and most effectively. Intentionality is crucial to deciding which candidate has your support.

Image Via Pixabay

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
A writer, editor and educator based in Northern California.

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