The presidential election of 2016 is on track to become historic for a variety of reasons. If Donald Trump wins in November it will be the first time in modern history that someone who is not a career politician, not someone who has spent a good portion of their adult life in Washington would win. If Hillary Clinton wins she will be the first female American president and the first former first lady to ascend to the presidency.
A Hillary Clinton presidency would most certainly be a crowning achievement for feminists of Hillary’s generation. The Gloria Steinems, Betty Friedans and Germaine Greers would view it as a culmination of their life’s work. But what about the young women of today? While they may recognize the strides for women made in those days, how many of them can relate with the feminist ideology of Hillary Clinton’s coming of age years?
In poll after poll Bernie Sanders is running away with the millennial vote, and that includes millennial age women. Why isn’t Hillary owning the 18-29 female vote? In spite of another former Secretary of State, Madelyn Albright declaring there is a “special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”, that is not resonating with young women.
Feminism in the 60’s was angry, militant. Career choices were still few for the working women of the day. Secretary, nurse, teacher, and stewardess, now known as flight attendants were the main career paths open to women. In most of those environments it was quite acceptable to pay them less for the same work, being called “honey” and “sweetie” were the norm, and inappropriate jokes and touches were endured if you wanted to keep your job. Sixties feminism changed a lot of that so we can give props were they are due.
But there was another aspect to Hillary Clinton feminism. It involved a lot of anger and hatred, and it was directed at men. Perhaps some of it was justified given the changes in society that were being attempted. Gloria Steinem now famously once said, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”. While today’s young women who might identify themselves as feminists are fiercely proud of their independence and rightfully so, not many of them are going to admit to a level of hatred for men.
Hillary also has other problems with young women who have become aware of Bill Clinton’s 90’s era escapades and her participation in the destruction of the lives of many of the women who made accusations of sexual assault and even rape against her husband. Then there is money given to the Clinton foundation by such countries as Saudi Arabia. How can you be a champion for women when you accept donations from a nation who does not permit women to drive?
The definition of feminism is very different for women today. It includes choices about career, education, marriage and family. And while there will always be some vestiges of 60’s mentality, women today have the means to fight back. Perhaps they are not angry because they have never had to be.
Will Hillary drag out the founding mothers of the Feminist movement in order to grow her numbers with millennial women? Maybe, but it could just be that millennial age women are figuring out that they need Hillary Clinton like a fish needs a bicycle.