Working in D.C. means we’ve been having a whole lot of conversations about this recently. The national elections are incredibly interesting. And so, whether I’m making photocopies in the church office, buying a phone at the mall, looking at earrings at a flea market, or drinking coffee at home, I find myself talking about Obama and Clinton.
And I find myself torn, most of the time, especially as a young feminist. Obama’s been against the war, consistently. He would be the first African American to become president. He would be a president closer to my generation, someone who understands the crisis of mortgages and student loans. I have not been impressed by Clinton on generational issues or how she sided with banks when she voted on bankruptcy laws that overwhelmingly affect women and children in our country.
But I can’t help but hear my older female friends who support Clinton and say, “We’ve been waiting for this moment all of our lives.” Women who feel like young feminist take things for granted too much. We don’t understand how difficult things were. We don’t appreciate the rough road it took to get here.
They see things that I don’t see. They see how the journalists talk about “Hillary” and “Obama,” and never “Hillary” and “Barack.” (I should have seen it. I’ve certainly heard Rev. Wimberly and Carol used in the same sentence enough times in the last couple of years to be aware…but I’m not.)
When Clinton uses words like “experience,” I think, She hasn’t been in the Senate that much longer than he has. But for the women I speak to, the ones who have been around the block a few more times than I have, it triggers something deep inside of them. They think of all the young and fabulous men who got jobs over them, even though they were more experienced.
I reject the notion of comparing the plight of an African American man to a white woman. Yes, they got the vote before we did, but we weren’t being lynched either. We’re not in a race for the bottom, it’s a race for the top. I would agree that poverty is a much more detrimental factor in our society than gender or ethnicity. And civil rights is a movement of freedom that scours edges, looking for those who have been left out, always seeking ways to expand. In that spirit, I believe Obama will do great things for women, as much as Clinton will do great things for African Americans.
For young feminists (even those in the pastorate, perhaps one of the most sexist professions), there is a bit of inevitability. I’m not so quick to vote for someone solely on the basis of gender. But when I’ve stopped and listened to my older colleagues, I’m not quick to dismiss their frustration either. I’ve never lived in the world that they have.
Gloria Steinem has said that young women are less radical because they are in their height of power as women in our culture: they have sexual power, child-bearing abilities, marketable beauty, etc. That’s why they’re less willing to fight. And although I’m always careful and appreciative of those who have gone before me, I’ve certainly been at the end of an angry pointing finger too many times. Because I’m just not careful and appreciative enough. So, what do you think? Do young feminists take too much for granted? Do we take it all too lightly?
photo’s by divapanenka