Our VoiceNews & Politics

Is there a Woman in the House?

Jill Garvey • Jun 17, 2008

Like many progressive women across the nation I faced a tough decision leading up to the democratic primaries. I began to question my friends about who they would choose and why. One friend told me she voted for Hillary in the primary because her seven year-old daughter asked that she vote for a woman. Other friends have told me they voted for Clinton simply because she’s a woman, not because they identified with her on particular issues. Then there are the women who wanted to vote for her, but didn’t. One friend conveyed her discomfort with Clinton’s adeptness at playing a man’s game. I can’t blame her for suspecting Clinton is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Oddly enough, both sides of the debate resonate with my inner feminist.

Part of me argues that if we want a woman to win we have to be prepared to let her play like a man, we must stand with her unequivocally. But then I watched Clinton stoke the embers of racial tensions and inconceivably support McCain’s plan to suspend the federal gas tax this summer, and I find myself ashamed that she’s pulling the same cheap tricks of Washington’s old men.
Clinton made it abundantly clear that she was going to fight to the bitter end for her campaign, but I wondered if she was going to fight to the end for our nation? Was she going to fight for the embittered working-class or the increasingly homeless middle-class? These are the people that desperately need real solutions to energy costs and cultural reconciliation in their communities.

Despite the generational debate recently between feminists, feminism hasn’t been the movement du jour for some time. I believe the women’s movement can be resurrected, but I’m not sure I’d want Clinton cast as leader or divider. Exactly what the movement has sorely lacked (an inclusiveness of women of color) is what Clinton cannot bring. She has certainly got the tough-as-nails, no-nonsense side down pat, I applaud her on that front, but she would have to possess true compassion for the people to be a feminist in my book. I want a woman in the White House not just for the sake of electing a woman, but because I truly believe that a progressive woman can do a better job. I believe that the lives of oppressed women and therefore all of the oppressed will be better with a woman’s leadership.

I am grateful for her work; she has undoubtedly advanced the cause for women in governance, and I have the inkling that, as a woman, I am supposed to be disappointed by her loss. Though the feminist in me says as a woman, as an American woman, I’ve compromised enough. I’ll hold out for the day that a tough, compassionate woman gets to the top without having to follow anyone else’s rules.

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