Why Hillary’s nomination is a historic advance for women

For the first election in memory, some (usually younger) women are arguing that it simply doesn’t matter if a woman is elected president.

This new generation is proudly post-feminist, and they won’t be railroaded into voting for Hillary Clinton, they say, even if she is a woman.

But what they’re really saying, when you get beyond their frustration at Sanders having lost the nomination, is that it’s no longer historically or culturally important for a woman to finally break the glass ceiling of the presidency.

And they couldn’t be more wrong.

I didn’t grow up female, but I did grow up gay. And in many ways it’s similar. I didn’t grow up with any role models. The only gays you saw when I was a kid (pre-Internet) was the occasional murderer in a movie, or a drag queen embracing a leather guy in the Pride parade coverage of your local paper, TIME or Newsweek. That was it. There were no role models to aspire to when I was a kid.

Prime Minister Cameron took particular offensive at Sec. Clinton's use of the term "pants suit."

Women had it better, to be sure. They at least had some role models who were “normal.” Their moms and grandmothers, for starters. But they didn’t have many role models in business — if they dared leave the mommy-track, they were relegated to jobs as secretaries and nurses, working for businessmen and always-male doctors.

And God forbid a woman ever won the American presidency. America has an oddly errant history in not yet having had a woman leader. Other similarly-situated countries broke that glass ceiling years ago. There’s Margaret Thatcher in England in the 1980s. Mary Robinson in Ireland in the 1990s. And Angela Merkel in Germany in the mid-2000s. (And let’s not forget Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England all the way back in the 1400s.)

And it’s not just in the developed West that women led long ago. Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel in 1969. Isabel Perón led Argentina in the early 1970s. Benazir Bhutto led Pakistan in the late 1980s. And the current president of Brazil is Dilma Rousseff, a woman.

And let’s not forget Nefertiti and Cleopatra.

It’s embarrassing that America has never had a female leader. (Or until 8 years ago, a leader of color.) But it’s also a problem in terms of role models. Yes, women are more equal to men than ever before. But they’re not quite there yet. Women still earn only 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. And a woman’s right to choose has been under constant, withering attack since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. But policy matters aside, what really concerns me is the lack of political role models at the pinnacle of power.

I just refuse to believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth were the only kids in America who suffered from a lack of role models. The fact that America still doesn’t have full equality in the corporate boardroom, or in the Oval Office, sends a subtle, or not so subtle, message to young girls and young boys that women are getting better every day, but they’re still not up to the big-boy tasks.

What’s particularly striking from those who claim the woman card just isn’t relevant, is how relevant they find other cards in the deck. These same “who needs a woman in the White House?” liberals don’t like it when African-Americans or LGBT-Americans are ignored on television (the recently complaints against MSNBC over race come to mind). And they definitely understand the need to have more people of color — and perhaps finally an openly-gay justice? — on the Supreme Court. But when it comes to women in the White House, suddenly diversity is passé.

It was a big deal when we elected an African-American to the presidency eight years ago. Which makes me wonder whether part of the current problem is women themselves.

Why do so many young female Sanders supporters feel that it’s no big deal if a woman wins the presidency? In LGBT circles, the phrase “self-loathing” comes to mind. It’s the notion that you’ve been oppressed for so long, and have so internalized your “lesser” status, that you not only accept your subjugation as normal, you almost embrace it.

It’s also possible that young women simply think they’ve won, and have moved on to the next battle. But they haven’t won. They’re still not earning what men earn in the workplace. And their reproductive rights have been whittled back significantly for over forty years.

But perhaps the strongest evidence that women still have a way to go is the fact that the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who regularly spouts off against women and minorities, has yet to pay a price for any of it.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis  — Win a pony! (not really)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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45 Responses to “Why Hillary’s nomination is a historic advance for women”

  1. YetAgain25 says:

    Isn’t she just a respectable-looking cover for Bill Clinton who prefers his chubby bubbly white-trashy girls impressed by politicians ?

  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    There are still 2 million uncounted votes in California.

  3. Doraahoward3 says:

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!tl300x

    two days ago grey McLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !tl300x:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsChoiceGetPay$98Hour…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!tl300x….,..

  4. Zorba says:

    Socrates, on youth:

    “The children now love luxury. They have bad
    manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and
    love chatter in place of exercise.”
    We “oldsters” have always been cranky. ;-)
    I suppose I shouldn’t have been involved in the anti-Vietnam War protests, because I wasn’t an ex-soldier, or a male subject to the draft. Or involved in Civil Rights because I’m not black.
    I don’t think you have to be of a particular gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic group, etc, to voice an opinion about matters that affect the previous groups, or to celebrate any of their accomplishments. As long as you are respectful.
    But that’s just my opinion.

  5. 2karmanot says:

    John has gone to the dark side and his thin skin is giving der Dtrumpenfhurer a run for his money. It is futile to object we must be assimilated !

  6. 2karmanot says:

    With ya sister on this one. The only ‘splaining I do these days is oldsplaining and it requires a lot of four letter words.

  7. 2karmanot says:

    ” what Hillary will bring us and what she’ll accomplish when we all come together.” Bingo…Couldn’t agree more and getting beyond disappointed. John’s spurious exercises in yellow journalism and others like him are creating a serious breach in the necessary collation of Bernie supporters ( some 11 million of us) which will carry Hillary over the top.

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    A victory by HRH Trump or HRH HRC won’t help help working women, many of them single heads of households, who don’t get a decent minimum wage. They’re the enemies of working women. HRH HRC and HRH Trump don’t care, they’re both filthy rich and I do mean filthy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lYgmen7f5c

    A victory by HRH Trump or HRH HRC won’t help the mothers of people of color murdered by cops. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqLfvQfuvsA

    A victory by HRH Trump or HRH HRC won’t help the tens of thousands of civilians in Palestine, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan murdered by Democrat and Republican regimes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd1ghag5Y

  9. Max_1 says:

    Hillary is not the right choice. Believing that the previous statement is solely based on her gender is A-symptomatic of Bias reasoning. Accusing others of not following the biased-reasoning offered as being anti-feminist is a bully tactic. You remember what kick back Maddolin Albright got, no? You’re doing the same intimidation act. “If you don’t do what I say, it’s because you’re an (insert invective)”.

    p.s.
    John,
    I was hoping for an article about what Hillary will bring us and what she’ll accomplish when we all come together. Sadly disappointed, again! Instead, we’re served more divisiveness… Is it unity, yet? Ever?

  10. Max_1 says:

    ^^ What Blogvader said ^^

  11. Max_1 says:

    Annie,
    You’re failing to differentiate from: Keeping Trump from becoming President with…
    … Holding your own candidates and Democratic Party accountable for their social responsibilities to their constituents.

  12. Max_1 says:

    I now find myself asking of the Democratic Party:
    Who knew Democrats support corporate money influencing politics?

  13. Max_1 says:

    “It just means Warren declined to run this year.”

    Well said.

  14. mark_in_toronto says:

    Sorry John, but I disagree on so many levels . . . .

    “I didn’t grow up female, but I did grow up gay. And in many ways it’s similar.”

    To equate being a gay male to being female is ridiculous. In fact, it promotes the negative stereotype that gay men are effeminate and think and act like women. It never applied to me or 99% of my friends. So, speak for yourself on that one.

    “There were no role models to aspire to when I was a kid.”

    Really? I thought most pro-gay pioneers always said that being gay does NOT define you as a person. I had a lot of role models from astronauts to artists to scientists and their sexuality was not important. It didn’t matter then . . . and it shouldn’t matter now. But unfortunately, it matters way too much to today’s bigots – not to mention the tabloids. Are you also saying that Obama can’t be a role model for an aspiring young girl who wants to be president?

    “It was a big deal when we elected an African-American to the presidency eight years ago.”

    Yes it was . . . and who was his Democratic competitor? Why, it was none other than . . . Hillary Clinton. So, I guess the black male card won over the white woman card? Hmmmm . . .

    “Why do so many young female Sanders supporters feel that it’s no big deal if a woman wins the presidency? In LGBT circles, the phrase “self-loathing” comes to mind.”

    Wow. To quote a line from one of my favourite movies, “What you don’t know about women is a lot.”
    Hillary is so out of touch with the average American woman, that the ONLY connection that female voters can make is . . . she’s a female. Hillary is more of a white male than Donald Trump can EVER be.

    “But what they’re really saying, when you get beyond their frustration at Sanders having lost the nomination . . . “

    OK . . . given your last 10 posts, I get it. You LOVE Hillary and hate Bernie and you’re certainly entitled. But this media circus (including yourself) around her “female-history-making-candidacy” is a bit much. Hillary is statistically NOT the best choice because she could easily give the presidency to a Donald Trump – especially if Trump uses his usual M.O. to go after all of the skeletons in the Clinton’s closet.
    Remember the 2000 and 2004 elections? Say it and repeat it enough and America will believe it.

    Hillary’s nomination is historic alright – but for all the wrong reasons.

  15. Zorba says:

    Look, heimaey, I’m not a Hillary fan, I voted for Bernie in the Primary, but by your logic, it must have been “whitesplaining” when white people talked or wrote about the meaningfulness of electing a black man as President. If Bernie had won and a Christian wrote about how historic it would be having a Jewish president, would that be “christiansplaining”?
    I don’t think that you have to be a woman to write about women, you don’t have to be black to write about blacks, you don’t have to be Jewish to write about Jews. As long as you are not being condescending, which John is not being.
    And I am not gay, but if a gay man or lesbian should win the high office and I wrote about how important that would be, would it be “straightsplaining”?

  16. 2karmanot says:

    Sad……

  17. Blogvader says:

    After watching ‘liberals’ like John invoke the ‘sunshine and rainbows’ meme, I think you’re right.

  18. Bill Deal says:

    Great letter! Thank you for your insights and the very literate ability to convey them to others.

  19. 2karmanot says:

    Get back to us in a few years and tell us how that worked out.

  20. 2karmanot says:

    I’m afraid that Hillary has hammered the last nail in the New Deal coffin. Corporate autocracy is the new world order. We owe Pappy Bush a cocktail.

  21. 2karmanot says:

    Exactly so.

  22. 2karmanot says:

    They aren’t wrong. What is real isn’t always true. The Presidency is power not sexual identity. Nor does it have anything to do with feminism…..Carly Fiorina is a perfect example.

  23. 2karmanot says:

    As goes California, so goes the nation. All that is left is for the pantsuit to sing.

  24. heimaey says:

    Nice mansplaining article AB has here.

  25. hiker_sf says:

    And I know more than a few women who agonized about their decision to vote for Sanders because of the historic significance of the possibility of having a woman president.

    But in the end, they decided that the good of the country is more important that righting the wrong of never having a woman president.

  26. goulo says:

    > It’s worth noting though that anybody who thinks some folks refused to
    vote for Obama solely because he’s black is just flat out wrong.

    (Is that sentence saying the opposite of what you meant to say, or am I confused? I think some people refused to vote for Obama solely because he’s black; that sentence says I’m flat out wrong, yet I think you agree with me.)

  27. Bill_Perdue says:

    Liberal doesn’t cut it. A socialist program is what’s needed.

    HRH HRC has a long and sordid history of racism, she’s a rabid warmonger, she’s not just a tool of the rich, she’s rich herself and she has a long history of being anti-union.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09WS4khWwHc The liberals are the ones hissing BLM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dmp3Jndj_o Shes a rabid warmonger

  28. hiker_sf says:

    What’s sad is that any criticism of Clinton is met with rants of sexism or that somehow, we have succumbed to right wing propaganda. Because none of us who oppose her, presumably, have any original thoughts or even the ability to think on our own.

  29. Helenrscheele says:

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!tl303ur

    two days ago grey McLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !tl303u:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsCubeGetPay$98Hour…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!tl303o….,….

  30. Annie Coffman says:

    As long as it helps put the racist wannabe dictator Trump into office.

  31. Annie Coffman says:

    More liberal than Obama’s.

  32. emjayay says:

    I wouldn’t. Hillary Clinton is however the opposite of a doofus.

  33. Blogvader says:

    What’s sad is that people no longer believe New Deal politics are possible in this country.

  34. Blogvader says:

    I’m sure that’s why Goldman Sachs is so interested in her.

  35. emjayay says:

    I’d say that it’s really sad when young people with progressive ideals have absorbed the decades of right wing propaganda against Clinton.

  36. emjayay says:

    An oligarch with one of the most liberal voting records in Congress.

  37. BeccaM says:

    When Obama ran in 2008, I felt he was too young, too inexperienced, and too naive regarding the political opposition’s willingness to work with him. Some of that was proven true. But I can’t get past the simple fact that now there’s not a single African American kid in this country who thinks someone who isn’t white can’t get elected to the highest office. It was important and a watershed. It’s worth noting though that anybody who thinks some folks refused to vote for Obama solely because he’s black is just flat out wrong. Doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have run, it’s just that there are racists in this country still and we’ve been seeing a lot more of ’em the last eight years.

    When Clinton announced her two runs for president, first in 2008 and then again for this year, I felt she had some unfortunate negatives. For me, she wasn’t as progressive as I would’ve liked. I did not and still don’t like the ‘family dynasty’ angle. The ‘inexperience’ criticism however is obviously not applicable for her. Wish she was a tad younger, mainly because being President ages those who hold the office. I’m also one of those who wishes America’s first female president was someone else…but I’m hard-pressed to name anyone but Elizabeth Warren as a possible choice, and she’s said she doesn’t want the job. Part of the problem is the same one African Americans have: People who are not white men are still drastically under-represented in our government. (And if Clinton is elected, we’ll soon learn just how much misogyny remains in America’s culture.)

    When I supported Sanders, I knew there were a number of negatives his more ardent supporters were refusing to see or acknowledge. Among them his age and his documented past as a far left radical. The refusal to release his tax returns and the reasons given were disingenuous at best. And I found his seeming desire to couch everything — including social and civil rights issues — as an economic issue to be troubling. Still, I liked his idealism which was why I stuck with him for so long, even past the point where I came to realize he probably wasn’t going to win the nomination. But I’ll also flat out admit I wasn’t all that thrilled that 2016 was shaping up to be yet another “two white guys” election.

    Honestly, John, I think some of where we are now with gender in politics and in business and everywhere else is cultural and generational results of the Equal Rights Amendment being defeated in the early 1980s. Disingenuously, while sex-traitors like Phyllis Schlafly were telling everyone that women had special ‘protected status’ privileges which needed to be defended, others were telling women we didn’t need the ERA because paradoxically it would make us less equal. I know, it makes no sense, but that was the counterargument at the time. I think the idea was that if we were actually equal, we didn’t need the backing of a Constitutional Amendment to make it so.

    And so the next generations of women were told they were equal in every way and came to believe it…but it was at the expense of denying all the ways were were not being treated equally at all. I remember sitting in my 1st year Electrical Engineering classes at CMU in 1981, and seeing out of a few hundred students in those auditoriums just 2 or 3 other women. Sometimes it’d be none.

    So now we have all these young women who think they’re fully empowered and fully equal — and they have no frickin’ clue they really aren’t. Their schools do not treat them equally. Their employers in many cases won’t. Women in positions of power are still asked how they balance family and career, whereas nobody would even conceive of asking the same question of men in the same positions. Until more glass ceilings are shattered, it would be generations more before they started to realize we have a whole lot more work to do.

  38. goulo says:

    > This is about young women out there saying that it simply doesn’t matter if a woman ever wins the presidency.

    I honestly don’t recall reading a woman saying that. I’m not saying no woman ever has said it, but do you have any links to someone actually saying that?

    As several people have commented, that “paraphrase” of yours is not at all the same as saying “I won’t vote for Clinton just because she’s a woman.”

    I’m sure there are some gay men that you would not want as president, but that doesn’t mean that you think “it simply doesn’t matter if a gay man ever wins the presidency”.

  39. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Would you vote for a gay man who was a complete doofus?

  40. pliny says:

    That’s not the impression I got from “This new generation is proudly post-feminist, and they won’t be railroaded into voting for Hillary Clinton, they say, even if she is a woman.”, as well as the references to female Sanders supporters.

    And your contention that “This is about young women out there saying that it simply doesn’t matter if a woman ever wins the presidency” isn’t really supported by what you presented in the article. Just because some young women reject a specific female candidate, doesn’t mean they don’t want to see a woman in office.

    It just means Warren declined to run this year.

    *Edited for a lack of skill in quoting*

  41. Blogvader says:

    I’m in agreement. I’d gladly vote for Warren if she were running, but instead, we’re getting yet another oligarch.

  42. That’s a total non sequitur. The article has nothing to do with Bernie vs Hillary. The primaries are over. sanders lost. This is about young women out there saying that it simply doesn’t matter if a woman ever wins the presidency. And they are wrong.

  43. pliny says:

    John, until you find some way to accept the idea that people might be rejecting Hillary based on reason and logic – even if you don’t agree on the reasons, and fail to see the logic yourself… You’re not going to make much progress on persuading them to see things your way.

  44. Webster says:

    I asked my young daughter-in-law, as she is also a Bernie supporter, how she felt about not voting for the possibility of the first woman in the White House. She said she was dying to see a woman as President, but not Hillary — that Bernie’s ideas and vision were what was needed in America right now. She’s turned off by Hillary’s corporate entanglements and support and “appalled” by her foreign policy mistakes and record. “As much as I want to see a woman President,” she said, “I’m willing to wait until it’s a woman I can be proud of, and one who will make a real difference in the way the world works — not the same-old, same-old, tired politics and policies that have been going on forever with no real progress or change.”

    No wonder I’m so proud of her!

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