It is time that feminists who have supported Clinton for the right reasons step up to the plate and criticize her for unacceptable remarks and practices. The women’s movement has been deeply divided over the Clinton candidacy. Yet what started out as a legitimate disagreement about the merits of the candidates and their agendas has turned into a test of one’s feminist credentials. But the test is perverse. It is not a test of feminist principles and values. It has become a test of loyalty to Clinton, in spite of the fact that she is undermining basic feminist values.

But perhaps one shouldn’t speak of the “women’s movement.” After all, aren’t there almost as many feminisms as there are feminists? However, it is safe to assume that feminists of different stripes share at least two basic principles: 1) one’s dignity and sense of self-worth should not depend on one’s gender, and 2) opportunities for achievement should not favor one gender over another. Almost all feminists have been willing to substitute “race” and “ethnicity” for “gender” in these two statements. Almost all feminists would argue that to set the oppressed against each other is reprehensible and undermines these principles. We rise or fall together. Isn’t this what feminists have believed? Further, means are inextricably linked with ends. You can’t promote human dignity by undermining it in your practices.

Clinton’s recent comments and strategy have wrenched means from ends. In her quest for the presidency, and now perhaps the vice presidency (or who knows what else), she has behaved as if she is willing to see divisions widen between races and classes. Here is Hillary’s recent comment in USA Today on the topic of white workers.

“There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how the, you know, whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

This was not an accidental throwaway comment. (And Clinton can’t hide behind the fact that she is “citing” an AP story. One is responsible for the news stories that one cites.) Numerous times during this race the Clinton campaign has attempted to make Obama the Black Candidate. What is so extraordinary about this recent statement is just how matter of fact it is. But suppose the positions were reversed. Suppose Obama was losing. Suppose Obama decided that he had to devise a “black strategy” in order to deny Clinton the nomination or gain leverage. Suppose Obama had said,

“There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Clinton’s support among working, hardworking Americans, black Americans, is weakening again, and how the, you know, blacks in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

Think of the implications. Obama would surely be viewed as playing the race card or perhaps the race deck. At minimum Hillary supporters would view Obama’s version of the statement as fostering a divide between white women and blacks, for patently selfish ends. Further, it would be viewed as creating rifts in the Democratic Party that make winning in November more difficult, thereby undermining feminism, because the Republicans will not be good for women’s issues.

Why aren’t Hillary’s feminist supporters taking her to task for these comments? We have heard some criticisms by Clinton supporters. But they are often softened with, “Well, she really didn’t mean it.” Nonsense on stilts. She meant it. Her campaign now depends on a strategy that the statement promotes. She wants to rack up a large white vote in West Virginia and Kentucky. She wants to be able to say that she is the candidate of white workers, especially white male workers. Anyone who doesn’t call this for what it is, is an apologist. And one reason for being an apologist is the fear of failing the Hillary loyalty/feminist test. But this is wrong. It is putting Hillary above feminism(s).

Feminists who have supported Clinton need to speak out NOW, and speak out with vigor. Feminism(s), and what it stands for, is more important than Hillary Clinton.

11 thoughts

  1. Clinton takes Indiana by a ‘razor’ and Obama wins North Carolina by a huge margin. Nevertheless, Kentucky, Montana and West Virginia are still to come.

    The Democratic race for nomination is still very much alive – and most likely to be decided by superdelegates

    If you’re tired of waiting around for those super delegates to make a decision already, go to LobbyDelegates.com and push them to support Clinton or Obama

    If you haven’t done so yet, please write a message to each of your state’s superdelegates at http://www.lobbydelegates.com

    Obama Supporters:

    Sending a note to current Obama supporters lets them know it’s appreciated, sending a note to current Clinton supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Obama, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Obama. It’s that easy…

    Clinton Supporters too …. !

    It takes a moment, but what’s a few minutes now worth to get Clinton in office?! Those are really worth !

    Sending a note to current Clinton supporters lets them know it’s appreciated, sending a note to current Obama supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Clinton, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Clinton. It’s that easy…

  2. What if McCain says: all those women voting for Hillary are Lesbians and they hate Men and I know they will all vote for Hillary? The women would be going completely crazy.

    Would the Country be in an uproar?

    But yet its OK for Hillary to say these Americans in KKK strong holds, who have LYNCHED, CASTRATED, RAPED, BURNED CROSSES, HOMES ETC.
    will not VOTE FOR A BLACK MAN.

    Its amazing Hillary has returned to her Republican roots and to think I defended them about the Murder of Vince Foster, Bimbo Eruption, Impeachment, Disbarment, Monica blue Dress, etc.

    She cannot pay her debts, ran a God awful Campaign and she wants to be President and CEO of our Great Country.

    How can she manage America she cannot manage her Campaign which is indicative of how she will run the Country.

    Hillary Clinton has proven Rev. Wright’s position. America is a Racist Country that Hillary has now told the World, White Racism in America still exist against Black Americans

  3. Hillary is not quitting yet because she’s about to win big in West Virginia. They have an open primary in WV, and just like PA, white REPUBLICANS will vote in droves for Clinton, the Democrat they most want to run against next fall. This is not about Obama being unelectable, it’s about cheating Republicans subverting our Democratic primaries. Take a look at the results in states that have open primaries. And don’t talk to me about exit polls, I personally know Republicans who voted for Hillary AND claimed they were Democrats in the exit polls. They’re laughing their butts off at us because Hillary will be basing her superdelegate coup on their votes, claiming a) white working class folks won’t vote for an AA, and b) that the Superdelegates should pander to this alleged racism and give her the nomination instead.

    For any who think Hillary is done, watch out. She’ll come back with a big FAKE WIN in WV claiming this proves her (racist) point. Unfortunately, her win will be based on lots of subversive Republican votes, not just racist Democrats.

  4. While I’m a late-to-the-game Obama supporter, I completely distrust anyone who says ‘Feminists must….’.
    Claiming feminists owe anything to the larger society, and asking them to act in concert is simplistic and sexist and offensive and …. the list goes on.
    One could as easily substitute the word African-American, Republican or Muslim and the statement would be as unrealistic and as offensive.
    There are many reasons for Hillary to pull out of the primary but claiming anyone but her very closest supporters has an obligation to force her hand is intellectually and emotionally dishonest and when you, a man, make grand pronouncements about the obligations of ‘feminists’ I can’t help but negatively speculate about your motivations.

  5. The African American vote is much more racially skewed than the white vote. The media simply “forgets” to mention it. The coverage has been so biased. If we don’t consider the 30% of the 90% of African Americans in Kentucky racist for saying that race affected their voting behavior, why should we consider whites racist for the same thing. Either both groups are racist or neither is.

    I think that the real problem with Hillary Clinton and women is that a lot of women still can’t accept a woman on top. I’m an American living in France and working as an English teacher in a French middle school. A year and a half ago when France was in the throes of its own presidential race, my female colleagues SPEWED out derogatory remarks about the female candidate. Tomorrow, they want me to go on strike to protest the policies put into place by the slick-tongued change-touting guy in the suit that they elected. And I refuse!

    Wake up and vote for a responsible candidate who knows the issues and will manage the country properly. Isn’t two terms of an inexperienced president promoted by a behind-the-scene ad man enough for you? Axelrod does not give post-campaign maintenance for a rookie candidate.

    Will have time for the

  6. Hmmm. I’m a middle aged, white male, veteran, not a college graduate, small business owner with 6 employees. Ronald Reagan was the last presidential candidate I was passionate about. Every one since has been the lesser of 2 evils. Until now. I am a passionate supporter of Barack Obama.

  7. Hillary is NOW Damaging Feminism

    She is only finishing off where Bill left off at in his administration with Lewinsky. Birds of a feather, flocks together. No good comes from bad, and Hillary is making that a true fact from the way her campaign has been manifesting. She may destroy her feminism, not mine, for I can uphold my own post. (I am a female)

  8. Hillary’s race-inspired comments do not denigrate others besides black men. They denigrate all people of colour, including coloured women, who are part of the feminist movement whether Hillary, Ferrraro and other white women think so or not.

    I find a problem in your post, well-intentioned though it is. You too think of the feminist movement as being about white women, requiring them to substitute “race” and “ethnicity” in the two statements to see the damage Hillary is doing to the feminist cause.
    But the word “feminism” itself includes all races, because it is about equality for all women.

    Hillary’s continued support among white feminists makes very clear that the American “feminist” movement is simply a power struggle between white men and women. They just shouldn’t ask for our participation, and shouldn’t call themselves feminists. (I am coloured, female, feminist)

  9. PV, I certainly agree with you about feminism not being a white women’s movement. I also agree that Hillary’s comments, ” denigrate people of color…” My intention was to point out that feminists should be willing to think about racial and ethnic prejudice in the same terms as prejudice against women, and if they did, they would see just how wrong Hillary’s statements were. In order to make this case, for the sake of the argument, I assumed that one can be biased against peoples of color, male or female, without necessarily being biased against (white) women.

  10. There are many so-called feminists that still claim they will write in HRC in the General election. I can not understand their anger, nor share their vision. She tore down many walls, revealing all sorts of demons in this country. If Hillary had integrity, and not allowed others to speak for her, shared the same values as Sen. Obama, instead of xeroxing him, she could have had my vote, well she did lose me when she mentioned hard working uneducated whites. It should have been obvious to ALL that she was shift-changing, morphing, and lying. But she has done an injustice not only to women, she has also fanned the racial divide! But ask her if she cares!

  11. “LobbyDelegtes.com is a great tool, I have contacted all my State Delegates for free through email, I have come accross another tool from the same company http://www.statedemocracy.org its also free and I can contact my lawmakers, apply for an absentee ballot & voter registration and on election day I can locate my polling places. Great tool…. use it”

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