Can a feminist vote for a man?

9d72cd60-3479-42b6-8932-1a36f69076baIs this even a question?

Lately, some old-school feminists — some of whom I deeply admire — have been quoted as “chiding” young feminists who support Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Because Bernie’s a man, and Hillary’s a woman, and, well, if you’re a girl, you need to vote for a girl. Or something like that.

(I’m still trying to parse precisely what this speech was about, though maybe it belongs in a whole ‘other category. I appreciate any spouse willing to defend the other spouse, though I don’t know if Sanders’ critiques and criticisms of Candidate Clinton can be called “sexist.” Let’s put that aside a moment.)

The argument goes deeper, of course. Here’s Pulitzer-winner Connie Schultz‘s take on it. The piece includes:

If you support Sanders in this Democratic presidential primary, I don’t assume that you hate women.

See how that works?

Whether you feel the Bern, or #I’mWithHer, isn’t the point that feminists choose the candidate with whom we most identify, regardless of gender? Or am I being naive? (In a similar vein, can one support a candidate other than Sanders, and consider one’s self not a tool of the establishment? I believe they can.)

Here’s how I see it: If you feel that Hillary has been in the trenches for women’s rights (or diplomacy, or health care), and that’s your overriding issue, vote for her. If you feel that Bernie was talking about wealth/income inequality before it was cool (or opposing war), and that’s your issue, then he’s your candidate. If you feel these issues — and perhaps a sixth and seventh issue — are important, then it’s on you to weigh the candidates’ platforms and histories, and make your decision. My brand of feminism doesn’t include weighing gender for my vote. Yes, it would be wonderful to finally have a woman in office. And historic. And awesome. But no candidate’s gender gets my vote. Candidates get my vote based on plans, past, and dedication to the issues I hold dear.

So it’s onward. To New Hampshire.

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19 responses to “Can a feminist vote for a man?

  1. Wild Bill wasn’t really talking about Sanders being sexist. He was talking about crude and possibly sexist comments made about his wife in comment boxes or on Twitter and such by people alleging support for Sanders. And then tries to connect Bernie to it. Like Sanders is somehow responsible for it. (Bernie responded to Wild Bill’s claim: “Anybody who’s supporting me and doing sexist things – we don’t want them,” he told CNN on Sunday. “I don’t want them. That’s not what this campaign’s about.” The Hill)

    A serial liar and philanderer wants to lecture…WHO…exactly? On sexism?

    And this is a feminist position?

    Tying the Clintons to feminism…or “Progressivism”…will require a very tight knot. One of those marine things that don’t slip when the waters get a little choppy.

  2. I am with you. Candidates get my vote, too, based on positions, plans, past performance, trustworthiness, and dedication to the issues I hold dear. And as much as I dislike what is going on this topic, and as much as I prefer some positions over the others, I would vote for either Hillary or Bernie over any of the Republican candidates. Former President Bill Clinton is way out of line, especially given his womanizing past (is it even past?).

    I wonder if there is something driving both Ms Steinem and Ms Albright to see a female Democrat as President in their lifetimes. How many chances are left for that for them, given their ages? Do you think there may be an element of achieving symbolic success for their life’s work with a President H. Clinton?

    • I wonder if that’s not at least a little bit of a motivation. Or maybe they really believe in what she has to say, and they’re trying to make their arguments stronger by drawing this particular line in the dirt. It doesn’t work for me, but maybe it works for some?

      • I do have to admit that there is a small voice in me that questions whether I am being a wee bit hypocritical. In theory, I do wish to give marginalized groups more of a chance to obtain high level positions because historically, they have been shut out. I have clear memories of such things in my own life. There is a part of me that questions, is this person close enough in order to break a barrier? I favor Bernie for a number of reasons – mostly related to his dedication to addressing wealth inequality. (As much as I want what Bernie wants, I do also question whether he could actually achieve it with the rest of Washington.) I believe wealth inequality arches over all other inequalities. However, I have an internal dispute inside because how many times have I argued over putting a man in charge to fix things for women instead of a woman? How many times have I asked for giving women a chance at running things? I am not a big Hillary fan. However, on some level, I am torn. What do you think?

        • I feel the same way. I like both candidates for entirely different reasons. And I argue with myself whether I am letting my idea of “electability” get in the way.

          • Who do you think is less electable and why? I haven’t paid much attention to the polls of match ups in the general election.

            • That’s the thing. To me, the polls are completely confusing and depending on the hour you check them, favors one over the other. I don’t hear (completely unscientific statement alert) near the vitriol leveled at Sanders, but then, is that a good reason to not-vote for someone?

              • Vitriol? From Sanders? Really?
                News to me.

                • Let me be more clear. I don’t see vitriol leveled at Sanders, not at the level it’s aimed at Clinton.

                • Aimed at Clinton by whom?

                  • As I said, it’s not a scientific sampling, but reading or hearing statements that “I can’t trust her,” then not following it up, serves no purpose. Or “she’s too ambitious” — which is ignorant to the extreme. It would take ambition to run for President, yes? The rehashing of her husband’s infidelity strikes me as not entirely on point, either.

                    • So not specifically from the Sanders camp? Because I haven’t heard anything approaching vitriol from there. But I’m not following that closely.

                      I don’t think bringing up Wild Bill’s past is serves much purpose, either…except….when she unleashes that dog to piss in everybody else’s yard. Then? He’s fair game.

                    • We agree. And I haven’t heard much coming from Sanders’ camp in the way of vitriol, either. And I appreciate that.

          • HA! I don’t like either of them for entirely different reasons.
            Well….maybe not entirely different……
            But mostly.

  3. We need Democrat majorities in the Senate and House, in order for either candidate to do much of anything they propose to do. What are the odds of that happening? I feel continued frustration with all of this.

  4. Hypothetically, who would you vote for if it were between: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or Elizabeth Warren?

    • Elizabeth Warren. So there’s that…You?

      • Same. Hillary Clinton is not my first choice of candidate for President. What bothers me is there was a decision made within the Democratic Party to choose Hillary Clinton, without opposition of another female candidate. I don’t like that. Are we not ready to move beyond having only one token female candidate on each side? Additionally, my feeling is, Hillary Clinton was chosen over Elizabeth Warren due to her husband’s influence. I don’t like that either. I wish we were given the choice between the 3.

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