“As a feminist, I should feel a thrill right now. I grieve that I don’t,” lamented author and activist Naomi Klein.
By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams
There is no doubt that history was made Tuesday night after Hillary Clinton swept California, all but sealing her fate as the first woman to become a major party nominee for president.
Even before polls closed in the Golden State, the former secretary of state celebrated the moment at a Brooklyn rally, telling her supporters, “Thanks to you we’ve reached a milestone: the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee.”
“Yes, there are still ceilings to break for women, men, for all of us, but don’t let anyone tell you that great things can’t happen in America,” she said after premiering a stirring video that highlighted some of the women who fought for equality and liberation.
“This campaign is about making sure there are no ceilings, no limits on any of us, and this is our moment to come together,” she added.
The moment was heralded widely—by older women who never thought they’d live to see this day, by feminist organizations, politicians, the press, and beyond, while social media lit up with celebrations of female triumph.
Terry O’Neil, the president of the National Organization for Women, described the moment as “momentous” and “inspiring.” The New York Times editorial board declared: “This achievement is worth cheering by all, regardless of party, because it further opens the door to female leadership in every sphere.”
However, for many progressive critics—particularly women—the symbolic victory was dulled by the reality of a female candidate whose brand of feminism encompasses problematic policies and undeniable privilege.
Author, activist, and renowned progressive Naomi Klein’s view, which she shared on social media, captured the sentiments of many on the left. Responding to Clinton’s tweet, which said, “Tonight, we can say with pride that, in America, there is no barrier too great and no ceiling too high to break,” Klein wrote:
Bull. Not under the plutocracy u represent. As a feminist, I should feel a thrill right now. I grieve that I don't. https://t.co/uz0y08mbbi
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) June 8, 2016
“We are asked to celebrate the breaking of glass ceilings this week, as the possibility of a female president is hailed as long-overdue feminist triumph? But just what kind of a feminist is Hillary Clinton?” asked author Liza Featherstone on Tuesday during a paneldiscussion on her recent book False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
While some pointed to Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy and lackluster environmental record, others, like Klein, noted that the win was only possible because of her elite status, particularly taking issue with her promise of “trickle-down feminism,” as some put it.
Clinton's likely nomination being a victory for feminism doesn't mean her agenda is feminist. Alice Paul is probably turning in her grave.
— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff) June 8, 2016
Clinton's achievement heralded as victory against glass ceiling but her victory is really a win for white feminism https://t.co/mpu86OoeNh
— JessieNYC (@JessieNYC) June 8, 2016
Can't wait until Hillary Clinton invades a country so white feminists can say she was the first female head of state to do that !!!!
— feminism & burritos (@nashwakay) June 8, 2016
woc/anti-imperialist feminism just rolled in its grave #Clinton
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) June 8, 2016
Clinton Corporate Feminism does not trickle down. The same Austerity measures we decry under Ryan were supported under Bill. Wake up.
— Anoa J. Changa, Esq. (@MsNonoESQ) June 8, 2016
Changa, an African American attorney, mother, and volunteer with Women for Bernie Sanders, recently explained to the Guardian, “Some women I encounter act as if I’ve betrayed some kind of secret society. I reject this brand of feminism. I’m not only voting for my gender, I’m voting for other issues.”
“There are a lot of issues that affect low-income women, immigrant women and women of color that her brand of doing things is not going to address,” she added.
While this critique is not new, it had a particular resonance last night as progressive women grappled with mixed emotions over Clinton’s landmark achievement.
I’m afraid this article isn’t very substantive on the details of why someone might vilify Hilary and not vote for her.
I admire both Bernie and Hilary, but I am constantly surprised at how much Hilary’s faults & mistakes are highlighted, while Bernie’s are not. Here in “Bernie Sanders is not nearly as progressive as you think he is” (among many many other articles) you can see that Bernie voted to go to war in Afghanistan, Bernie voted for more funding for the War in Iraq, Bernie has had a questionable record on guns… and much more: http://theweek.com/articles/603044/bernie-sanders-not-nearly-progressive-think
It’s often the candidate you can live with vs. “the best candidate” simply because — let’s face it, none of us is perfect (‘casting the first stone’ and ‘taking the wood out of one’s own eye’, et. al.). If anyone out there seems to think that they would NOT be raked over the coals for their own failings when putting themselves in the public limelight, think again.
What’s more, Obama is currently facing the highest popularity rate in his presidency — and he’s working against immigration reform, using drones to bomb countries and many more failings. He’s not perfect either, but I appreciate what he’s done for our country.
Quite frankly, I can’t help but wonder if the vilification of Hilary (rather than reasonable, factual dialogue over her failings) has EVERYTHING to do with sexism. Take a look at some of the comments right here at SDFP. Commenters seem to be far left liberal UNTIL it comes to issues of women, when they say things like women have no place in the military because they are different, etc. Rather appalling.
bob dorn says
Hillary supporters are turning off people with these ad hoc attacks.
This story contains ample demonstrations of why people were reluctant to support her. Your best shot, at the top, missed.
You have made her election a litmus test for good will or bad will toward women, and that just ignores real worries about her hawkishness and unbending loyalty to money.
In painting her as a victim of haters you ignore a press that tried to reduce Bernie to silence.
I can understand very clearly why dedicated feminists are angry about it taking so long for the civil rights movement, suffragette division, to have an effect on the nation’s behavior. A lot of people got in the way of liberation. Now, it’s different. You should be happy about that.
Barbara Zaragoza says
I’m sorry, Bob, but your comments about women at SDFP are exactly the ones I’m referring to that make me question why you support Bernie over Hilary. “Now, it’s different.” you say. That’s bull, Bob. Women have a LONG way to go in order to have the same rights as men. They still don’t have equal pay to men, for example. And just look at the recent campus rape culture that should make your statement “Now, it’s different.” nothing short of shockingly conservative…
I love Bernie. He changed the dialogue. He has done an enormous amount for this country… but so has Hilary and you keep deciding that Bernie is somehow flawless, while Hilary is evil. That is my only point. Bernie is not flawless.
bob dorn says
Huh? What “comments about women at SDFP” are you talking about? Maybe you mean my decency makes you wonder why I support Bernie? As if he’s not decent? And… it IS different now: there was an avalanche of support for the rape victim in that strange surge of male sympathy for the rapist. And we’re about to elect Hillary our President. And,yes, “Bernie is not flawless” but then I didn’t say that, did I?
So the fact that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke up about discrimination and had a following means that racism had already gotten better?
Even the above comment is disturbing, Bob. You may notice that a rapist only received 6 months in jail and the number of rapes reported on campus have only now finally been elucidated. We’re just starting to speak out about the very serious problem of discrimination against women.
The fact that you’re defensive about it in the above comment rather than extremely concerned and addressing discrimination against women head on troubles me greatly.