Are Young Women Denying The "Sexual Caste System" In The Presidential Race?

Illustration for article titled Are Young Women Denying The "Sexual Caste System" In The Presidential Race?

Gender and the Presidential race is a topic that's been on the media's mind today, what with Hillary's recent popularity plummet and her "crying" incident. Gloria Steinem, the godmother of second wave feminism, weighs in on Hillary and womanhood in an op-ed in the NY Times: "Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House," Steinem argues. She also touches on something that Moe and Megan from Wonkette touched on this morning: Hillary's crying jag proved that if you're an incredibly ambitious woman, you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't. "There is still no 'right' way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what," Steinem says.


Gloria goes on:

Sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects "only" the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more "masculine" for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren't too many of them).

Steinem also posits that the younger generations might be failing to see what she terms the "sexual caste system," (i.e., the idea that women are always considered inferior to/ taken less seriously than men) while "Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age."

U.S. News & World Report also believes that the failure of young women to support Hillary in Iowa might signify a " decline, or perhaps the maturation, of American feminism." Because our generation was not constricted by the shackles of domesticity like our mothers' generation, U.S. News senior writer Michael Barone says, we don't "feel a need to be liberated from restraints that were never urged" on us, and therefore don't feel "transfixed" by a female running for President.

I "feel" like that argument is tenuous at best, because I would hope that our feminist foremothers thought about what a candidate's politics were instead of just voting based on gender lines. All the same, do you think the younger generation is ignoring Hillary because they think sexism no longer exists?

Women Are Never Front-Runners [New York Times]
Young Women, Feminism, and Hillary Clinton [U.S. News & World Report]


Earlier: Moe: "It's Not Crying If There's No SNOT." Megan: "No, I Cried Without Snot At American Pie!"



i too find it interesting that she thinks young women are "denying the sexual caste system." I'm in my early twenties and i've run up against my fair share of sexism, but it never really got under my skin. maybe it's a testament to my parent's awesomeness, but it never really made an impact on me other than making me think "well, fuck you then." my favorite example of this would be my elementary school gym teacher who made my friend and i run extra laps because we beat too many boys and "girls can't run that fast"— we ran the extra laps and STILL beat half the guys in our class. i was like, 12, and it made me mad, but it never made me think it was true.

i think the really long winded point i'm trying to make is that we're AWARE of the sexual caste system, but we don't feel the need to buy into it. hence the number of lovely ladies on this site who see that the media is being unfair to hillary with this whole "crying" thing, but still don't feel the need to vote for her in some misguided expression of sisterhood.