I support Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. Gender is not the sole reason I support her (I certainly would not vote for Sarah Palin or Carly Fionina), but I won’t pretend that Hillary’s gender doesn’t matter to me*.
I don’t believe that voting explicitly for a [qualified] female candidate makes me sexist. Not any more than supporting affirmative action to increase institutional racial diversity makes me racist. Nor am I under any illusion that electing a female president will solve all of this country’s gender issues. While electing Barack Obama did not make America a “post-racial utopia,” the symbolism of the first black president has undeniably changed the way this nation thinks and talks about race. I believe that electing the first female president will do the same for issues of gender inequality. Electing a President Hillary Clinton would make history in a very significant way. I believe a female president has the potential to inspire a generation of girls and young women who would open their textbooks and see that despite hundreds of years of history, a Y chromosome is NOT a requirement to become elected to the highest office in the nation.
I also support Hillary because she has a strength that is unique to women of her achievement and position. The kind of strength that allows one to maintain her principles with dignity and poise in a world of old white men, many of who are uncomfortable with the idea of women in power and see her as a threat to the status quo. Just watch footage from the Benghazi hearings. Numerous media outlets have written about the unique struggles and inherent disadvantage of “running while female,” how women must “prove themselves extra-competent in order to be understood as basically competent.”
There’s been some talk about how a female candidate could never be as scruffy as Bernie Sanders, as uncombed and unkempt. A woman could never be as grumpy as Bernie, as left-leaning as Bernie, as uncooperative with party machinery as Bernie. And that stuff is true enough. But the bigger truth is that what Bernie does, to great acclaim, that Hillary Clinton could never do is make big promises of institutional overthrow, tug on our imaginative heartstrings by laying out a future that might not be grounded in reality, and urge a revolution. Here is a truth about America: No one likes a woman who yells loudly about revolution.
I believe that the simple fact that Hillary has made it this far – where even her adversaries are forced to take her seriously, or resort to to dismissing her with sexism and baseless attacks – adds to her qualifications.
I don’t believe Hillary Clinton is perfect or that she hasn’t made mistakes – far from it. Like many others, I acknowledge that there are other female Democrats (Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand among others) who would be qualified to run for president. And I wish that they had challenged her, but at least in this election cycle it hasn’t happened.
As a Democrat and a feminist, I support Hillary Clinton because she is qualified and because she is a woman. I wouldn’t go as far as to say not to support Hilary is un-feminist, but as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently said at a rally for Hilary, “there’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help each other.”
*I also believe Hillary has great experience, vision, and well thought out policies. I have plenty of specific policy-related reasons for supporting Hillary as well. Ask me if you care to know.