Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton headed to New Hampshire last weekend ahead of the New Hampshire primaries in a bid to shore up support for her campaign. During the boisterous rally, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave a rousing speech on the importance of electing the first female president, declaring, “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder — and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
Albright’s declaration drew ire from young, female supporters of Bernie Sanders, who shot back on social media, criticizing Albright’s attempt to manipulate women into supporting Clinton based solely on gender.
The general consensus among social media critics is that Albright’s speech insulted their intelligence and suggests that Clinton’s campaign seemingly views women as easily manipulated using emotional coercion, rather than engaging with their concerns over foreign and domestic policy.
Most articles detailing this latest fiasco are quick to chalk up this latest controversy as stemming primarily from the age gap between female supporters.
Indeed, polls have shown that although Clinton leads Sanders among overall women, Sanders has a larger margin of support among women under 45, while older women overwhelmingly favor Clinton.
Pundits, celebrities and even mainstream feminists were quick to offer explanations for this disparity through print and television. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem opined that while older women become far more liberal and politically active than younger women, the younger generation of women are primarily concerned about “going after boys,” implying that Clinton’s policies were irrelevant to young women, whose sole concerns in life apparently revolve around their libido.
[Clinton supporters] ignore the legion of younger women’s thoughts and opinions expressed on social media — and instead use shaming tactics to scold women for not cowtailing to the faux feminism popular in mainstream discourse.
Other commentators point to Clinton’s “image” problem; Sanders comes off as “authentic” and “passionate,” whereas Clinton’s persona allegedly comes off as “dishonest,” which alienates many young voters.
Many articles zeroed in on Clinton’s email scandal to explain away Clinton’s image issues, rather than engage in a deeper analysis of her foreign and corporate policy stances that contributed to the wealth disparity in this country.
In response, Clinton’s campaign launched an initiative to portray the candidate as an advocate for the downtrodden, and a deeply committed champion for women. And yet other mainstream icons — such as Albright — seem to think younger women have taken for granted the hard-won achievements fought for by the older feminist movements and think younger women “don’t realize” that there’s still “far more to go” in achieving women’s full and equal participation in politics, and therefore gravitate toward Sanders.
Albright, staunch Clinton-ites and large portions of the media seem to miss the mark, however; while some articles point to Clinton’s ties to Wall Street as a sticking point for young voters, many other writers and pundits — most notably, Clinton supporters — ignore policy differences among the candidates that may have a greater influence on young voters than sex or persona.
They ignore the legion of younger women’s thoughts and opinions expressed on social media — and instead use shaming tactics to scold women for not cowtailing to the faux feminism popular in mainstream discourse; a corporate feminism that posits “women’s rights” equates to women’s equal participation with men in our corporatized political system.
It fights for equally exorbitant pay for female and male CEOs, so both men and women can participate in the wage manipulation that underlies the wide disparity in wealth between the rich and the poor. It fights for more women in the higher ranks of the military, so women can also enforce the foreign policy decisions that destabilize whole countries in order to provide American corporations access to the rich natural resources which empower the American Empire.
To be fair, Clinton and the corporate feminists who dominate the Democratic party have fought for women’s access to safe abortions and protection for women that suffer domestic abuse and sexual assault.
We cheer [Clinton’s] efforts, while ignoring the fact that she also opposes an increase in the minimum wage that meets the basic standard of living, hampering thousands of women’s ability to access quality health care they can afford.
These are issues that affect women across the socio-economic and political spectrum; poor women, rich women, black women and white. And because these issues affect such a broad range of women, the Clintons and Albrights of the world manage to endear themselves to a whole swathe of women.
As a woman myself, I’m grateful to live in a country where women have access to safe and affordable abortions and where the legal system offers women protection from abuse, with all of the attendant resources necessary to deal with the trauma associated with sexual and domestic assault. And I appreciate the contributions of establishment feminists in pushing these important agendas into the forefront of political discourse.
Women aren’t a monolithic group whose concerns and issues are uniform. Access to affordable women’s health care — including abortion — affect women in different ways according to class, race, religious ideology, etc. A woman seeking an abortion is just as hampered by her ability to afford one, to have transportation to reach a clinic and by her ability to take time off of work, as she is by religious extremists attempting to outlaw abortion.
Therefore, her ability to get an abortion is intimately tied to the wages she receives; if minimum wage doesn’t meet the basic standard of living, and she’s living from paycheck to paycheck, then the term “affordable” in relation to health care access becomes quite relative.
Furthermore, if she works for a company who busts unions and is able to exploit the government’s increasing deregulation of industry to cut back on paid sick leave, she may not be able to take time off of work to get an abortion to begin with.
So when we have corporate Democrats like Hillary Clinton push for more funding for women’s health care, we cheer her efforts, while ignoring the fact that she also opposes an increase in the minimum wage that meets the basic standard of living, hampering thousands of women’s ability to access quality health care they can afford.
Clinton supporters would interject, “You’re forgetting that Clinton has fought long and hard for affordable health care for lower-income women.” Usually, this response comes from women who probably don’t know what it’s like to literally live from paycheck to paycheck, so that even a $500 abortion is unfeasible.
Usually, impoverished women in need of an abortion are forced to borrow money, spend weeks cutting back on other necessities — like utilities and food — in order to scrape up just enough to pay for a procedure they would easily have been able to afford if they had a living wage.
And that’s just one example of how one issue in women’s rights is intimately tied to one other demographic in society: Abortion access for lower-income female workers.
What about race? African-Americans are disproportionately affected by poverty, and because of institutionalized racism through the school-to-prison pipeline and mandatory minimum sentencing — both vociferously supported by Hillary Clinton throughout the 90s — the lower-income African-American family lives in a continuous state of socio-economic instability.
Women’s rights should revolve around improving women’s overall quality of life, which cannot be divorced from their intimate interpersonal relationships; for many women, watching the lives of their sons, brothers, fathers and lovers be ruined through harsh prison sentences for drug possession is just as traumatizing as being denied access to affordable health care.
Furthermore, Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy stances certainly devastate the lives and welfare of Iraqi, Pakistani, Afghani, Libyan and other foreign women, and the lives of female veterans whom Clinton helped send to fight an immoral war, veterans who came back with severe post-traumatic stress. Clinton’s current policy stance on veteran’s health care — which seeks to expand care and fund more projects — would be unnecessary to begin with, had she and other corporate Democrats refused to acquiesce to an unjustified war.
So, which women truly benefit from Clinton’s policies? More often than not, older, upper-income white women.
Clinton and her corporate feminists seemingly ignore that the younger generation of women face unsurmountable student load debt, a poor job market and economic instability (whereas older women are more likely to be in long-term, stable careers, which they acquired before the 2008 recession), and are therefore more adversely affected by the power grip corporations and special interests have over our political system via campaign financing.
Therefore, younger women support Sanders at a higher margin than older women, because he not only supports all of the same women’s rights policies that Clinton does, but he seeks to improve women’s overall quality of life by advocating free tuition for public colleges, campaign finance reform and abolishing foreign policy decisions that lead to unnecessary wars.
It’s glaringly obvious — based on the current struggles younger women are facing along with their male counterparts — that the number one biggest challenge facing America is the vast disparity of wealth and the growing tensions between various socio-economic classes.
America is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy; the wealthiest Americans that run and operate large, multinational corporations pretty much set domestic and foreign policy — and this is not a conspiracy theory, it’s a proven fact.
Their “feminism,” therefore, advocates for greater participation for privileged women in the corrupt oligarchy we live in, while fooling less privileged women into thinking Clinton advocates on their behalf.
While gender and race are major issues that Americans struggle with, socio-economic class is the medium through which racial and gender struggles find the greatest expression. Wealthier women enjoy access to the best health care available, while impoverished African-American communities are more adversely affected by police brutality. We also know that although wealthier women get abortions at a higher rate than poor women, impoverished women make up the vast majority of actual abortion patients, and that’s mainly because poor women are three times as likely to get pregnant than wealthy women, so socio-economic status is interwoven with abortion and contraception.
This all clearly exemplifies how race, class and women’s issues are intimately inter-related, and improvements or deterioration for one demographic directly correlates to the welfare of the other two.
So, when corporate female Democrats like Clinton and Albright advocate for Wall Street and private prison contractors, yet support ending the gendered wage gap and offering more “affordable” health care access for women, whose interests do they really represent, and what goals are they really achieving?
They’re advocating for upper-income white women, yet use slick PR tactics to hide how their policies adversely affect impoverished women, and women of color. Their “feminism,” therefore, isn’t an “equal opportunity” fight for all women, but simply advocates for greater participation for privileged women in the corrupt oligarchy we live in, while fooling less privileged women into thinking Clinton advocates on their behalf.
And when women see through this sham, corporate democrats like Clinton and Albright try to shame younger women into voting for Clinton by claiming they have a responsibility to put a woman in the oval office — but ignore the policy issues younger women are concerned about.
Like the right-wing members of the oligarchy, corporate feminists in the Democratic party have evinced their disdain for the vast majority of the masses, that they view us as vapid and vain, a populace who prioritize the superficial over the substantial, and who are ruled by emotion over logic.
Image: The Washington Post Screengrab