Young Feminists Can't Decide Between Obama & Clinton

Illustration for article titled Young Feminists Cant Decide Between Obama  Clinton

At Wellesley college, Hillary Clinton's alma mater, young women are split on the Clinton vs. Obama issue, The Washington Post reports. For instance: Katie Chanpong and Aubre Carreon Aguilar are both feminists and political activists. "If you're a woman, you vote for Hillary because of what it means to women everywhere," says Ms. Chanpong, a sophomore. Ms. Aguilar, a senior, says: "If I'm supposed to vote for Hillary just because I'm a woman, that's kind of sexist." The female-only school finds many of its students are having to decide what it means to be a feminist, writes Eli Saslow. "Do you vote for a woman to shatter the glass ceiling and further the cause? Or do you make an empowered, individual decision that is not confined by gender?" Ona Keller, the co-president of Wellesley College Democrats, is "hard-core Wellesley." She wears vintage ERA T-shirts, calls incoming students first-years instead of freshmen. "Everybody who knows me thinks of me as a feminist," Ms. Keller says. "Nobody imagined I wouldn't vote for Clinton."



Senior Kirstin Neff discussed her leaning toward voting for Obama with her mother, who helped Ms. Neff change her mind in five minutes:

"She started telling me about how our generation takes for granted a lot of advances that women have made. She told me what it was like in the '70s and '80s and, you know, the general feeling that you were never as good or as important as your brothers or the men who you worked with. She talked about how women's stakes are so tied up in Hillary's candidacy, and how it could change what it means to be a woman and what all these little girls will think is possible in their own lives. So I just kind of started thinking about it like that, and it was like, 'Hmm. Okay. Do I really want to step in front of all of that?'"

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While the women of Wellesley face tough decisions, writer Caille Miller is striking back at Gloria Steinem's op-ed in The New York Times referring to the "Sexual Caste System." In an open letter on Glamour's "Glamocracy" blog, Ms. Miller writes to Steinem: "You said, 'the sex barrier [is] not taken as seriously as the racial one.' How would you know, Ms. Steinem, having never been on that other side? You pulled out that old I'm-the-bigger-victim routine, complaining that black men were given the right to vote before white women, while forgetting that black men were prevented from exercising that right because of poll taxes and the threat of being lynched." She reminds Steinem that the "battles of the 1960s are over" but there are "new battles to be fought that affect all women, young and old, rich and poor, black, white, Latina, Asian. Right now you're not helping us in those battles. You're being—yes, that word you hate, 'divisive.' Ms. Miller notes that as a woman of color, "I want to make my own decisions."

What it comes down to is the meaning of feminism and what it means to be a woman. Is it more important, above all, to further the cause of women? Or is your number one priority to stay true to yourself and your ideals? Check out Hillary Clinton's Wellesley yearbook picture, and try to imagine her as a student and not a candidate. Which side do you think she would be on?

Young Feminists Split: Does Gender Matter? [Washington Post]
An Open Letter to Gloria Steinem [Glamour]

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DISCUSSION

A lot of women have been waiting a very long time for there to be a female candidate with a realistic chance of winning the White House. Just this evening, CNN published a poll that still shows Hillary ahead nationally by thirteen points and it includes Obama's bump and is post-NH.

Some people are going to vote for her because she's a woman, much like some African-Americans are going to vote for Obama because he looks like them. Personally, I think that a higher percentage of African-Americans are going to vote for Obama than women are going to vote for Hillary, but that's a whole different issue and it is neither here, nor there.

In a previous election cycle, as a Democratic activist, I've long held that the pairing of Liddy Dole and Colin Powell would be unstoppable. They'd both pull from their natural constituencies, plus they're both Republicans.

Sure, eventually we're going to have another woman with a good chance of being President, but there's not a lot of names on the horizon and if some people feel that they must vote for her because of her gender or if they're weighing two equals and feel that her sex puts her over the top; Who are we to judge? We're also going to eventually have a black President; One from Arizona; Another with a name ending in a vowel (Monroe & Fillmore aren't really ethnic-sounding and both were more than 150 years ago) and we may even get a Mormon, someday. In the meantime, if the candidates matching these discriptions are the choice of some for primarily these reasons, then that's their choice and we should respect it.

As for myself, I haven't endorsed a candidate in the primaries since Jesse Jackson and I primarily did it as an aside, when I was going door-to-door in a minority neighborhood, as part of a get-out-the-vote effort. When it's my turn to vote, I'm probably going to vote the game to keep one or the other of the front-runners in the race because I think we're being served by the process and as I've said a couple of times over the past few days; The Democrats might possibly not have a nominee before the convention.