Being a woman is not enough to win a woman’s voteFebruary 8, 2016
Just because Hillary Clinton would be the first woman President does not necessarily make her the right first woman. And bullying young women to support her solely because of her gender is a losing strategy.
Pro-women women have changed since the trailblazing days of their mothers and grandmothers. Pro-women women are now Presidents and CEO’s, legislators, lobbyists and News anchors. As leaders, conveners and problem solvers, their broad appeal seeks to bring people together across differences, not drive a deeper wedge between genders or races or classes.
Pro-women women are also increasingly pro-life and pro-tradition and pro-conservative values. They see themselves as in a position of strength to advocate for others who have no voice, are marginalized or victimized by pragmatic politics that see some people as problems to be solved.
Pro-women women are fighting on the front-lines of every cultural battle
They know a sexist bully when they see one. Their mothers and grandmothers taught them well. Which makes it particularly rich that a man who used his own positional Presidential power to victimize women is now scolding young women for not supporting the very woman he betrayed.
On Sunday, Bill Clinton literally wagged his finger at the American electorate for what he sees as sexist treatment of his wife. She happens to be running for the office of President of the United States and yes, she happens to be a woman.
Clinton seems to have missed that in the last decade, the identity based politics of women voting for women because they’re women has run its cultural course. Women vote for candidates who share their convictions and can champion their cause – which is not the cause of feminism so much as economics, education, and national security.
Clearly Clinton is not the only powerful politico who missed the fact that this cultural marker has been passed. On Saturday, while stumping for the former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State, the first woman to serve as Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, scolded young women for failing to support Clinton’s candidacy. She said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
Condemning people to hell with allusion to Dante’s Inferno is not something you expect to hear at a Democratic Party rally. Maybe Albright missed the memo that the Democrats voted God off their platform four years ago. Maybe she also missed that a generational shift has taken place since the days of feminist trailblazing. The current and rising generation of American women are more concerned about the inequality experienced by other women and girls around the world than they are about having a woman at the helm of their own nation.
Pro-women women know both the successes and the failures of Hillary Clinton to help, support and advance the cause of other women while she was Secretary of State. They know that more women are in parliament and more girls are receiving a primary level of education than when Clinton took office. But they also know that more women and girls are enslaved today and sexually trafficked than when Clinton took office. They know that Clinton was ineffective in addressing the global practice of female genital mutilation. Her track record on the advancement of human rights related to women and girls is mixed and when she’s not running on her gender, she’s running on that record.
This generation of women is the most well educated, well informed, egalitarian, activist and activated of any generation. And much to Clinton’s chagrin, they actually believe every candidate for a job should be judged without regard to their gender. To scold them for living out the goal of equal rights is illogical.
Women are not single issue nor single factor voters. And to be pro-woman does not mean the same thing to every woman. If you want to win a woman’s vote stop suggesting that the only value she brings to the polls is the fact that she’s a woman.