The 2016 election season is in full swing, bringing together all types of political contenders in hopes of gaining the most coveted position in the world: the president. One of the people running for the position is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with endorsements from the New York Times, Planned Parenthood and The Boston Globe padding her already-overwhelming political resume as former secretary of state and junior senator of New York. She’s female, she’s bright and she’s successful enough to be on Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list.
So, if I’m the exuberant feminist and Democrat I claim to be, why am I not supporting Clinton’s campaign? Shouldn’t women support each other in our quest to achieve full political equality and representation within the most powerful office of all?
The answer is no. While she has an impressive collection of pantsuits, political experience and promises, it is not enough to win over my vote.
For one, Clinton claims to be a champion for women’s rights, but consistently ignores the intersectionality between the issues that cause gender inequality to exist. She’s endorsed by Planned Parenthood, but in 2006 took a middle-ground stance on abortion, instead of using her influence as New York’s first female senator to make a difference and advocate for women’s reproductive rights.
You cannot be a feminist and an advocate for the equalization of opportunities between genders without remembering the systematic economic, political and social circumstances women face that prevent open access to opportunities for progress. Focusing on women’s rights is great, and something every candidate should be doing — but not just for white, rich, cisgender women.
She makes claims to represent the average American, but is anything but.
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, she was so bold as to tweet, “No American should work 40 hours/week and still struggle to make ends meet — not in Alabama and not anywhere else.” Although it may seem like she is sympathetic with underpaid and overworked employees, it is important to recognize that her top donors are from multibillion-dollar corporations including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley. What’s more, she portrays a facade of standing for the working class, but for six years, she sat on the Board of Directors for Wal-Mart — one of the most heavily sued corporations due to the repeated mistreatment of employees and unethical business practices.
Thus, pretending to support the individuals who are oppressed by corporations that have more legal rights than the citizens maintaining them, but still continuing to accept donations from monopolizing industries shows an explicit confusion of priorities with her prospective presidency. With one hand, she is holding the hands of the hardworking individuals within society who are tired of being institutionally left out of socioeconomic mobility, but with the other, she is accepting the profits that supporting large corporations brings her campaign. My rights will not be up for debate based upon the figures she can receive on a campaign contribution check.
She claims to be a trailblazer for the progression of LGBTQ rights, yet demonstrated her support for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples. In October 2015, following Clinton’s email scandal, one of the leaked emails showed Hillary Clinton’s frustrations with the U.S. Department of State. In 2010, there was an attempt to change “Mother” and “Father” to “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” on passports, in order to accommodate the LGBTQ community. While it was a huge step forward in acknowledging the rights of the community, Clinton responded by saying, “I could live w(sic) letting people in nontraditional families choose another descriptor so long as we retained the presumption of mother and father.” Standing with someone only when it is convenient for the advancement of her own political goods is not activism — it’s manipulation of the American people whom she claims to serve.
As females, we have to support one another because we exist in a society where every action is scrutinized by the patriarchy. However, this does not mean our vote has to be dictated only because Clinton is a woman.
Earlier in the fight for gender equality, electing a female president seemed unreachable. However, we are no longer living in an era where women cannot gain positions of power within society. A new day is dawning where women are rising and are unstoppable.
We will get our female president when the time is right, but it will be one who works to address and solve the intersectionality of issues surrounding gender inequality.