Pitting Hillary Feminists against Bernie Feminists, and vice-versa, is the most tactful, Iago-esque undoing of Feminism that I’m convinced only the Internet could summon up, like green smokey witchcraft dissolving into the air from the big black cauldron of the Media. What’s more is it’s become an ageist divide: young feminists for Bernie, older Feminists for Hillary. This itself, in a society notorious for prizing young women and feeling icky about old women—I don’t know, deepening that divide also troubles me.
I don’t think this conversation should be, or is actually about, who we can trust legislatively to uphold women’s rights. We all know that both these people will do that, and with Bernie or Hillary in office, we are more or less politically safe. But here’s the thing: there is a difference between saying yes to women’s rights, and asking for women’s rights in the first place. It’s my understanding that Bernie has always said yes (and that’s great!), but Hillary has actively, asked. Because guess what, only as a woman, would it occur to you to do so. And that’s just the way it is. It’s why Civil Rights movements are always led by those needing the rights. All kinds of people participate, but the leaders, well the stakes are infinitely higher, aren’t they? And that makes you fight differently, doesn’t it?
Look, Hillary Clinton went to China in 1995 and basically just called women “Human Beings” and it was kind of a huge fucking deal! If Bernie Sanders said it, it would have been just as feminist, but it would not have been nearly as effective. Because while all feminists are created equal, all feminist symbols are not. If Feminism moves beyond reproductive policy and equal pay and into battling cultural discrimination, and I think it should, then here’s the bottom line: Hillary Clinton is our best bet. And not just by default, but by incredible purpose. And I get it: if you’re a socialist before your are a feminist, if you are equal-parts socialist and feminist, then the symbol may not matter to you, and that’s totally legitimate. But you can’t tell me that crouching down next to your little daughter or sister, pointing up at President Sanders and saying “You see that man, he’s fighting for you, listen to what he says” will do nearly as much as crouching down to that same little girl and saying “See her. Look at her. She’s your President.” So to my Bernie Feminists: this doesn’t mean your brand of feminism is inferior or less inspired than mine (it is not), but can’t you see how, holistically, it is not as effective?
A month after Hillary made her famous speech at that 1995 World Conference, my own mother became a victim of terrible domestic violence. We all have our own little stories that make us feel what we feel. For me, supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States is the best, most meaningful way to engage my Feminist.