14 May 2008

Grr Grr Grr, Another PR Guy Trying to Co-opt Feminism

As sick as I am of all the clearly biased anti-Hilary media coverage that wrote her off over and over, even as she won and won big (and now cheers with glee at her "downfall"), I am more upset at some PR guy writing an editorial that uses feminism as just another pawn in the political game.

The argument is not a new one - that if you are a feminist you must vote for Clinton. However, it's usually coming earnestly from the moths of our aunts and mothers, who lived through an age where feminism was defined as "The personal is political." Here, it's being cynically employed by a PR guy, and more strongly attacking Obama supporters than I have seen much of anywhere else.

There are a lot of arguments that support both sides of this issue. And I think that, for this older generation of feminists, the current election sits squarely in the center of their experience watching an entire generation subvert, co-opt (and also positively transform) what it means to be a feminist and how one expresses it. To them, not voting for Hilary is just as bad as saying The Pussycat Dolls are feminist icons.

In my opinion, these women are right and also very wrong. Viewed solely through the lens of the single cause of women's equality, they are dead on. Women today often do take the great advancements made by our foremothers for granted (isn't that part of the goal?) but here's one goal that has yet to be attained, so we should all work together to get there. However, that ignores both the wider historical and social forces at play in this election and the more detailed nuances of the specific players in the race.

Intelligent voters can't ignore the Clinton legacy - both positive and negative, or the fact that Obama is also a historical candidate from a minority group. Our standing in the world is greatly diminished, we are fighting losing wars on two fronts, we are at an ideological crossroads and in an economic downturn. It's up to each individual to weigh these factors, along with their personal ideals, and take advantage of their right to vote (thanks, Universal Suffrage!) to make their own choices. It's not up to some man to tell all women how to think and how to act, and invoke feminism while he's at it.