Feminism, Socialism, Hillary, & Bernie

World leaders when the men are photoshopped out of the picture.

An Islamic leader infamously had German Chancellor Angela Merkel Photoshopped out of a group photo of world leaders because she was not wearing a veil. Here is a group photo with male world leaders Photoshopped out of the picture. This is the problem.

While many American progressives swoon over Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders’ laundry list of economic reforms– like free college education, taxing the rich, and redistributing the wealth– others support the progressive woman candidate, who has been leading in the polls for months.

Baby Boomer feminists like myself have been fighting for equality and punching through the glass ceiling of sexism our entire working lives. Hillary Clinton is one of us. She is poised to punch through the thickest glass ceiling in the world– the US presidency.

1960s

In the 1960s, when I was in the eighth grade, I told my guidance counselor that I wanted to go to college. He asked why– since girls really didn’t need to go to college. He finally acquiesced and ask, “So, do you want to be a teacher or a nurse? Those are the only professions for which women need a college degree.”

1970s

In the 1970s, I sued an employer for wage discrimination and won, but…

I was blackballed in the local economy because that employer lied about my resignation. When asked for a reference, they told businesses where I had applied that I stole from the company and was fired. After that, I couldn’t find a job in my profession and was forced to be a waitress with a BA in journalism (cum laude). By the way, one of the best days of my life was when a black lawyer from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission entered the lobby, presented his card, and said, “Show me all of your personnel files.” He found that not only were the two editors who filed the suit discriminated against, but all of the women and the only two black employees were also discriminated against. The women and blacks received raises only when the minimum wage was raised, and they were blocked from positions that earned commission– even if they had prior sales experience. Some women had worked there for 20 years and still made minimum wage, which was under $2/hour back then.

1980s

In the 1980s, a major Southern Arizona employer forced me to choose between having my toddler and newborn in day care for 12 hours a day or quit. I had worked at home on the annual report during my otherwise unpaid maternity leave and asked to work at home two days a week until my son was at least six months old. They said, “no”. I said, “You’re asking me to choose between my family and my job. I quit.” Afterward, I had grounds to sue that same major Southern Arizona employer for wage discrimination, but the man they hired after me (who didn’t have the required journalism degree but was paid more to do my old job) did such a crappy job that he got canned during probation. My boss who had refused my offer had to do both my job and hers after that. (Karma can be sweet revenge.)

1990s

In the 1990s, I returned to the workforce and took a $8000/year pay cut to work for the University of Arizona in the same job title I had left years earlier. In that position, I was patted on the ass in my office by a married UA full professor. (I also was married, and he knew it.)  I didn’t complain because I knew that as a lowly classified staff member, I would be canned and not the tenured professor. In the late 1990s, I became management and could make my own rules.

Hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton Signs Copies Of Her Book 'Hard Choices' In New YorkWe are here to advance the cause of women and to advance the cause of democracy and to make it absolutely clear that the two are inseparable. There cannot be true democracy unless women’s voices are heard. There cannot be true democracy unless women are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives. There cannot be true democracy unless all citizens are able to participate fully in the lives of their country. [Hillary Clinton]

Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat. Women often have to flee from the only homes they have ever known. Women are often the refugees from conflict and sometimes, more frequently in today’s warfare, victims. Women are often left with the responsibility, alone, of raising the children. [Hillary Clinton]

I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life. [Hillary Clinton]

The right has been lying  about and actively trying to politically damage this poised, intelligent, prepared, and highly qualified woman for decades– ever since her famous tea and cookies quote as First Lady.

If any of the ~20 male presidential candidates had been the leader in the polls for 10 months, would a milquetoast candidate like Vice President Joe Biden even consider jumping into the race at this late date? Hell no! Would the Congress be trumping up yet another bogus committee investigation against him? Hell no!  People would be fawning over him and trying to gain political favor.

Instead we see attacks from the left and the right against the most qualified candidate in the field. Bring it! Feminists like Hillary have been in this fight for decades, and we’re not giving up.

It’s time for equal rights for women.

It’s time for equal pay for women.

It’s time to shut down the pink collar ghetto and allow “women’s work” to be unionized.

It’s time for women to be in control of their own bodies– instead of being oppressed by a male-dominated political system.

It’s time for women to hold 51% of the elected offices in the US and nine seats on the Supreme Court.

It’s time for women to be protected from discrimination in the US Constitution.

It’s time to end the War on Women.

It’s time for the Equal Rights Amendment.

It’s time for a WOMAN to be president of the most powerful country in the world.

Why do the right and the left attack Hillary Clinton? Because they know that 51% of the US population just might finally see equality if one of us became president.

Even socialist feminists see this. From the People’s World

However, the rancor I hear about Hillary from my left friends is more than disturbing. Usually couched in the mantra “She’s tied to Wall Street” or “She comes with a lot of baggage,” such complaints miss essential points.

First and foremost, the policy differences between Hillary and any Republican candidate are stark. It would not be a cakewalk for Hillary to get elected. The sexism is thick and the country is split, with only a few percentage points between Democrats and Republicans.

Second, I think such criticisms represent an underestimation of how a liberally-minded woman president like Hillary (as opposed to the reactionary Carly Fiorina) would impact the structures of gender inequality, often called patriarchy. These cultural, economic, social and political structures have prevented women from being elected president for the entire 239 years of the United States’ existence, and denied women the right to vote until 1920. Wouldn’t breaking that cycle be an important step in chipping away at such a system?

The election of Barack Obama did not bring elimination of racism or create a post-racial society, but it did provide new avenues to address and struggle against racism, and gave millions of people a deeper understanding of how racism deforms democratic society. I think the movements to save Troy Davis’ life, protest Trayvon Martin’s murder and to guarantee that Black Lives Matter all had their genesis in Obama’s election, giving especially younger activists a whole new model and political space in which to organize. Similar space could open up on struggles for women’s rights and freedom.

These thoughts were triggered during the debate when Clinton answered a question on paid family leave so strongly and beautifully:

“…it’s always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, ‘You can’t have paid leave, you can’t provide health care.’ They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They’re fine with big government when it comes to that. I’m sick of it. … we should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, ‘big government this, big government that,’ that except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we’re going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.”

Sanders responded next. And frankly, I was more than a little disheartened. I was shocked when he said:

“Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. That is an international embarrassment that we do not provide family –  paid family and medical leave.”

Did I hear that right? “When a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby…?” No father should be able to as well? No parents should be able to stay home? Just the mother? Granted that is probably the case most of the time but still hearing it like that stopped me in my tracks. For me it was a jarring throwback to a bygone era. Gender matters, I thought.

And that’s when I stopped to think that my assumptions may be missing the point of this political moment. I needed to do what mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki said regarding researchers: They need to “deactivate the thought patterns that they have installed in their brains and taken for granted for so many years.”

What if the role of a socialist is in fact to support Hillary? The left is not immune from sexism as it is not immune from racism or homophobia or anti-working-class ideas. It takes a struggle to be aware of those influences and to change, including women who may internalize sexism.

When I was growing up, I remember my Mom complaining about having to train multiple men to be her boss. Mom was valedictorian of her high school class, she was highly efficient and well organized in everything she did, but as a woman in corporate America, she never got to be the boss. After decades of working in the pink collar ghetto, she never rose above the ranks of admin assistant in the Personnel Department of a unionized factory. This is a waste of talent.

What do I expect from the first woman US President? Equality!

Democratic Party debate.

Democratic Party debate.

 

 

20 responses to “Feminism, Socialism, Hillary, & Bernie

  1. I am undecided at this point between Clinton and Sanders, but I confess that I am sick and tired of hearing people say that Clinton is not trustworthy and lies, but they never say about what. Be specific or prove it, or just shut up about it. Yes, I know Clinton has been tarred and feathered with the Corporatism brush, but I also know she has always supported women’s rights, civil rights, and early-on pushed Healthcare for all against a solid block of Hillary hatred and defamation that continues to this day. I prefer to have our candidates debate their differences with civility, not GOP animus, and would prefer that the voters do the same without resorting to name calling and character assasination.

    • You do realize that ALL politics has been rough and tumble since politics began, don’t you? There has never been a period where genteel, civil discourse was the order of the day. If you haven’t been paying attention, Hillary has been giving and good as she has been getting. Don’t feel bad for her, she is as tough a politician as anyone in the race, and tougher than a few of them.

    • Lee Stanfield

      Yes, male politicians have screwed us over, but so have some of our female politicians. However, I strongly agree that it would be far better for us to elect a worthy woman. HILLARY IS NOT THAT WOMAN! Her past and present actions show her to not be worthy.
      Unfortunately, the only current female presidential candidate who would be worthy is Jill Stein, but sadly, she isn’t considered a viable candidate, and so doesn’t have any chance of winning the primary. FACTS are what I base my opinions on regarding Hillary. In the 1990s she and Bill both sold us out by using the Arizona AHCCCS program (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) as the model for the entire nation. I am a resident of Arizona and worked for many, many years in social services, so at the time I was very familiar with just how badly this HMO style program was…. how it was focused mainly on the “cost containment” vs the “health care” part of its name. We are the only industrialized nation that does NOT have a single payer system… the only one where people go bankrupt every day directly because of health care costs. I have researched the various health care systems in great depth for decades, and a single payer system such as Medicare, expanded to include the entire population and to cover ALL health issues (eyeglasses, prescriptions, hearing aids, podiatry, dental, etc.) is by far the most efficient and least costly way to cover everyone with higher quality health care than we now have. YET HILLARY STILL OPPOSES A SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, and instead backs Obamacare, which has resulted in further firmly entrenching the already-devastating rule of the for-profit health insurance corporations. By contrast, Bernie Sanders has been CHAMPIONING a single payer health care system all along. Hillary was also SUPPORTIVE of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement until very recently, when she changed her tune…. only because she could see that the huge majority of the voters she needs on her side are against it. I believe that once she is in office, she will switch back to favoring it, and this will be an enormous tragedy, because the TPP will undermine our ability to enforce laws protecting the environment, human rights, and worker rights. It will allow international corporations to sue our government for enforcing any law that may result in possible loss of their current or future corporate profits . I wish we did have a viable choice of a female candidate…. BUT HILLARY IS NOT THE RIGHT WOMAN FOR THE JOB!

  2. It is sad how willingly we “disqualify” over half of our available talent on the grounds of their gender, race, or ethnicity. And how the leadership attributes of the privileged white male become “bitchyness” in women or being “uppity or angry” in African Americans. Wasn’t one of the reasons given for Bush’s win over Gore that he was more personable and somebody you would like to have a beer with? I think it would be fun to “have a beer” with Hillary. Thanks for a great article, Pamela. It really personalizes what talented women face in the workforce.

    • Thanks, Doug.

      Yes, you’re right. Before the Bush/Gore election, there was a poll that asked people who they would invite to a backyard BBQ or who would be more funs at a BBQ– Bush or Gore. Bush won– which is weird because he is a teetotaler.

      There is a lot of wasted talent when employers are allowed to freely discriminate.

      • “Bush won– which is weird because he is a teetotaler.”

        So you are saying you have to drink alcohol to be “fun” and for people to enjoy your company? That hasn’t been my experience but perhaps it has been yours.

        “There is a lot of wasted talent when employers are allowed to freely discriminate.”

        That is a very disturbing statement. The implication of it is that an employer should not be allowed to choose someone to fill a position in their company on their own. That they should not be free to choose the employee they want because they may not choose someone with which you would agree. Do you feel you (or someone like you) is better equipt than the employer to choose “the talent” needed for the company?

    • “I think it would be fun to have a beer with Hillary.”

      The word “fun” is not a word I have ever seen associated with Hillary before.

  3. I am a woman, and I am a strong women’s advocate, but I don’t trust Hillary. She is the ultimate politician. I think she will say anything she thinks will get her more votes. But once in office, she will turn around and do whatever it takes to keep the corporate campaign funders happy. I don’t like her hawkishness in foreign affairs, and I don’t believe she is really against the TPP (which is a true horror for this country and others). She is definitely not progressive enough for me.

    • Well, I don’t trust male politicians because they have repeatedly screwed women over. That’s a fact. What you are stating is opinion and conjecture.

      • And women politicians haven’t screwed women over?!? Politicians of both genders wind up screwing everyone over. It is the nature of politics.

      • Lee Stanfield

        Yes, male politicians have screwed us over, but so have some of our female politicians. However, I strongly agree that it would be far better for us to elect a worthy woman, HILLARY IS NOT THAT WOMAN! Her past and present actions show her to not be worthy.
        Unfortunately, the only current female presidential candidate who would be worthy is Jill Stein, but sadly, she isn’t considered a viable candidate, and so doesn’t have any chance of winning the primary. FACTS are what I base my opinions on regarding Hillary. In the 1990s she and Bill both sold us out by using the Arizona AHCCCS program (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) as the model for the entire nation. I am a resident of Arizona and worked for many, many years in social services, so at the time I was very familiar with just how badly this HMO style program was…. how it was focused mainly on the “cost containment” vs the “health care” part of its name. We are the only industrialized nation that does NOT have a single payer system… the only one where people go bankrupt every day directly because of health care costs. I have researched the various health care systems in great depth for decades, and a single payer system such as Medicare, expanded to include the entire population and to cover ALL health issues (eyeglasses, prescriptions, hearing aids, podiatry, dental, etc.) is by far the most efficient and least costly way to cover everyone with higher quality health care than we now have. YET HILLARY STILL OPPOSES A SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, and instead backs Obamacare, which has resulted in further firmly entrenching the already-devastating rule of the for-profit health insurance corporations. By contrast, Bernie Sanders has been CHAMPIONING a single payer health care system all along. Hillary was also SUPPORTIVE of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement until very recently, when she changed her tune…. only because she could see that the huge majority of the voters she needs on her side are against it. I believe that once she is in office, she will switch back to favoring it, and this will be an enormous tragedy, because the TPP will undermine our ability to enforce laws protecting the environment, human rights, and worker rights. It will allow international corporations to sue our government for enforcing any law that may result in possible loss of their current or future corporate profits . I wish we did have a viable choice of a female candidate…. BUT HILLARY IS NOT THE RIGHT WOMAN FOR THE JOB!

    • “She is the ultimate politician. I think she will say anything she thinks will get her more votes. But once in office, she will turn around and do whatever it takes to keep the corporate campaign funders happy.”

      You have been paying attention to what what Hillary does and not what she says. So many others don’t see Hillary for what she is, they see her for what they wish she would be. Hillary plays into that very well.

  4. Donna Stebbins

    Thank you Pamela, for such an amazing essay. I am shocked that men don’t like her policies that have, for decades, have included giving women and children a fair shot in today’s world. Well, not really shocked about that, just very disappointed that men who claim to be progressive liberals, come out against her. If they had the brains, the courage and the fortitude that she possesses, they might fully understand how much she has brought to the table, for decades. She was one of the best, if not THE best SOS we have ever had. I have not yet chosen who will get my vote, but I can tell you, Sanders is going to have to step up a little more to get it. I have always admired Hillary Clinton, but I though there for a minute, that Sanders would get my vote. He’s still a long way from convincing me that he would make a better President that Hillary Clinton. Thank you again, for your article!

  5. Pamela, I want extend my personal respect and regards to you for your lifelong fight on behalf of women’s rights. It has to have been a very difficult and frustrating fight for you. I mean that most sincerely.

    My dislike of Hillary has nothing to do with her being a woman. I oppose almost every policy she is in favor of. I also find her extremely unlikeable. I could get past the unlikeable part, because I have voted for candidates I didn’t like, but the policies she holds on so many issues makes her a candidate to be opposed in my opinion.

    • By policies you “don’t like” are you referring to equal pay for equal work, paid family leave after childbirth, automatic voter registration for everyone, path to citizenship for immigrants, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, gun control and going after the NRA, ending discrimination, ending voter suppression, getting government out of women’s vaginas, ending the War on Women….. etc?

      • Of those you mentioned, I don’t like gun control and attacks on the NRA, automatic voter registration and her version of stopping “voter suppression”. I also don’t like her tax policies, her attitude toward the military, and the fact it would put Bill Clinton back in the mix.

  6. Donna Gratehouse

    Great essay, Pam.

    And now Hillary is taking heat from Biden and the likes of Jim Webb for characterizing Republicans as her enemy. Like it was unseemly of her to describe them correctly after they’ve been trying to destroy her for decades.

    • Biden and Webb are pandering to the No Labels crowd– as if tacking to the right ever helped Democrats.

      I’m glad it now appears as if Biden is not running. Good thing. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had completely forgotten that he even ran in 2008.

    • If the Republicans on the Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi committee grilling her today are her friends, what would her enemies do? On second thought maybe they are her friends since they are making her look very presidential at the moment!

      • She looked presidential only if that is what you wanted her to look like. I saw her as shifty, evasive and doing everything possible to pass blame to someone else.