Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Feminists Lost to Trump? Not Exactly
Feminists will deride this essay as mere proof that I'm just a man.
Because I'm going to offer scant sympathy for the notion that Hillary Clinton's presidential loss represents a loss for womanhood in general, as many American feminists lament.
The special interest groups that have been bewailing Donald Trump's surprise win last year are legion. Virtually every demographic except heterosexual white men have been going through various stages of withdrawal and remorse over the erstwhile Republican, and the specter of doom they fear is about to consume our White House. And women have been at the forefront of this consternation, particularly those who were confident that Hillary would smash the Oval Office's glass ceiling.
In her recent article, "Feminism Lost. Now What?" New York Times senior editor Susan Chira presents a survey of significant American feminists and their various perspectives on what Trump's win - at a woman's expense - means for women's rights. Should women stay the course and continue with their current tactics, or should they strike out on a new course of action, and if so, what should that new action look like? And how deeply should feminists internalize Hillary's loss for themselves?
"There is a fear," explains Chira, "that women’s issues... could be trampled or ignored" by a Trump presidency.
After all, reasons Chira, "a majority of white women voted for him, shattering myths of female solidarity and the belief that demeaning women would make a politician unelectable."
Yet Chira's angst seems little more than another battle cry in what's become a convoluted saga. It's a saga for some abstract non-male prototype in which certain key benchmarks, prescribed by our society's metrics of power, represent not just an interpretation of equality with men, but, at the same time, a prissy refutation of the benchmarks men typically use to evaluate themselves.
In other words, ardent feminists can't see themselves as equal with men until they not only occupy the same exact socioeconomic and political positions as men, but until they also convince society at large that equality itself is more important than competence, merit, and integrity.
Chira and her sisterhood seem oblivious to the fact that many American voters - both men and women - simply did not want Hillary to be President, no matter her gender. Hillary is no model of virtue, nor a uniquely qualified administrator of American political doctrines. For Chira and other feminists to be so despondent over Hillary's loss, they must have been blind to the former First Lady's incredible flaws, not just as a presidential candidate, but as an immoral money-sucker who hobnobs with obscure warlords, and an enabling wife who kept her philandering husband on a long leash for her own career's advancement.
Indeed, had Hillary won, it would have been a black mark against strident feminism, since it was her husband's presidency that laid the groundwork for her campaign. Hardly the description of a self-made feminist, unless ignoring one's husband's sexual indiscretions is part of the feminine mystique?
Chira briefly touches on the fact that many younger liberal women flocked to Bernie Sanders, but she fails to see that these young liberal women did so not to refute feminism per say, but probably because they considered Hillary a profoundly bad candidate.
Hey: Sometimes gender really doesn't matter. But Chira sees the means to an end as the price to be paid for a non-male occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In other words, Chira wasn't as concerned about Hillary's drawbacks (which she readily enumerates when describing Trump) as she was that little American girls still won't get to see a woman in the White House anytime soon.
Yes, Trump is a seedy womanizer who spews vulgar opinions about women - even his own daughter. And yes, Hillary's campaign dug up plenty of women who claimed Trump sexually abused them. But if police reports weren't filed by those women at the time of their alleged abuse, what is there for the rest of us to believe? Except that some of the same stuff Hillary's own husband may have done to women is suddenly horrible when her presidential opponent has the same skeletons in his closet? Why should women voters feel flattered by such duplicity?
Chira and her sisterhood also seem unable to recognize the price feminism may be paying for its strident push for abortion rights, particularly at a time when popular opinion on the topic of abortion shows no overwhelming support for the practice within the general population.
Chira also sees a racial dynamic at play, since exit polls showed so many white women voting for Trump, as opposed to black women, who mostly supported Hillary. Yet even here, Chira can't prove that race itself was a factor, or simply that black people generally vote Democratic for a variety of reasons, and perhaps they were more willing to vote Hillary this time even if they were doing so while tightly holding their noses in disgust?
In other words, black women may not have been playing a racial card or a sexist card by voting Hillary. Perhaps, they were merely voting against somebody the Democratic party has traditionally portrayed as unfavorable to blacks of any gender, with that somebody being whomever is running on the GOP's ticket.
Chira also mentions the notion of equal pay, but again, that issue is widely misunderstood by the public, and flagrantly misconstrued by the mainstream media. Most statistics on the subject merely lump salaries women earn in one pile, and the salaries men earn in another, and view the contrasting amounts as indicative of sexism. But that is not the way to calculate whether women and men are being paid unfairly. Salaries need to be matched by the job, not the gender. If more women are clerks than men, and clerks generally get paid less than the type of jobs men typically hold, the resulting disparity doesn't mean women are being discriminated against. It merely means that women hold different types of jobs than men do.
So, all the way around, Chira's is a tired and waning argument, not just of the elitist feminist manifesto, but also of her disappointment than most of her fellow sisterhood didn't swallow their integrity and just go ahead and vote for Hillary since she was a woman.
As if doing so would make women equal with men. Shucks, how many men voted for Trump because he is a man? Not that Trump deserved to win the election, but he didn't win because he is a man. Talk to enough people who voted for him, and it could easily be argued that he won because he wasn't Hillary.
Not Hillary, the woman; but Hillary, the corrupt, deceitful, duplicitous presidential candidate.
Actually, when it comes to feminism, American voters may have done womanhood a favor by keeping Hillary out of the Oval Office. At least we've preserved the ultimate glass ceiling crack for somebody who actually might be worthy of the scar.
You'd think Chira would appreciate that.