We’re deep into the Presidential election season and people are taking political sides, candidates’ supporters are posting to social media and smear campaigns are everywhere. But there is something more than Democrat versus Republican that’s been bothering me recently.
When discussing the current political race, men on both sides of the political ideologies say one of two things to me: “I hope you’re not voting for [Hillary Clinton] because she’s a woman” and “I’m glad you’re not voting for her just because you’re a feminist, I assumed you would.”
At first, I eagerly agreed with these statements. I would respond with, “I would never vote for someone just because of their gender. I vote based on my political beliefs and do my research.” Then I’d receive some sort of pat on the back from my male counterpart and we’d all smile and agree as if this conversation held no roots in sexism.
But you know what? Plenty of men vote without doing their research. When George W. Bush Jr. was elected, it was said he won the vote based on being the guy the average American man would want to grab a beer with. What the fuck is that? Men in the United States have never had to think about the way they vote by gender because throughout our history, their gender has ALWAYS been represented. Men are the majority power holders.
So I ask men: can you dare to imagine what it would be like to have ONE person, ONE man be the face of your entire gender? A presidential election where there are five candidates and four are women? Imagine living every day of your life knowing that it was mostly women over the age of 45 passing laws about your body, pay, children’s education, gun laws, etc…. anyone scared yet? That’s life for women and we’re considered ‘dramatic’ for speaking out against it. Women are automatically deemed biased because we dare vote for a qualified, educated woman. But my bet is you would speak out too. You may even vote for the male candidate just because of his extra appendage.
It’s 2016 and over 80 percent of US representatives are still men. Hillary Clinton runs for president and she’s immediately the voice of all liberal women—at least in the eyes of men in this country. Guess what? She’s not my voice. But I’ll be damned if I shame any woman for voting for her because she’s a woman.
In a world that has so few women in powerful political positions, so few known channels encouraging girls and young women into the political arena, I refuse to belittle Hillary Clinton by boxing her into her gender – she’s a big wig, a political legend, a frontrunner to be the President of the United States. Now, I don’t agree with all her tactics, her views on big money, or some of her past decisions, but I’m proud that she’s there as a reminder to all women that yes, we can rise to power.
Women are capable. We will be visible. We demand representation.