SANCHEZ: Hillary Clinton’s brand of feminism is narrow, élitist, self-serving
Opinions Column: The Champagne Socialist
Besides potentially being the first U.S. woman president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has relatively few merits of her own compared to the socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). Indeed, without a sexist to oppose, tweeting #ImWithHer isn’t much fun, and Clintonistas everywhere are eagerly scraping the bottom of the barrel to smear Sanders or his supporters as misogynists.
Writers like Salon.com’s Amanda Marcotte smear Sanders’s supporters as being “Bernie Bros,” supposedly skewing heavily toward white men, somehow erasing the senator’s hefty support amongst millennials of all colors and genders, or his victories in some of the Union’s most diverse states, such as Hawaii. The former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, suggested that women who don’t vote for Hillary Clinton are hellbound, and feminist doyenne Gloria Steinem has basically said that young, pro-Sanders women are really just trying to impress “the boys.” They seemed to have ignored a recent USA Today poll finding that millennial women support Sanders at a wider margin than they do Clinton — a jaw-dropping 61 to 30 percent in favor of Sanders amongst millennial women, while for young men it’s 48 to 44 percent.
First off, neither William J. nor Hillary R. Clinton would be where they are without each other’s single-minded ambition and loyalty to one another, despite their individual … antics. They’re the real-life Frank and Claire Underwood. Many women heads of state, far too many of them in fact, throughout history have acquired their positions through blood or marriage, but, as writer Liza Featherstone has written, “While it is common for a woman to advance in this way, it is neither interesting nor feminist.”
Wal-Mart, the "Beast of Bentonville," Arkansas, counted Clinton as the first woman on its 15-member board of directors, and though she served from 1986 to 1992, as a May 2007 exposé in The New York Times says, "The only notable pushes she made were to have a little more recycling and getting more women in management, and neither efforts can be said to be too successful." In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of Wal-Mart in Wal-Mart Store, Inc. v. Dukes, perhaps the biggest sex discrimination lawsuit of its kind in U.S. history. Even though, as Jeffrey Toobin says in The New Yorker, plaintiffs argued that women made up 72 percent of the workforce yet a third of management, the Court’s conservatives deemed this as too “squishy.”
Fervently anti-union, Wal-Mart has a history of firing union sympathizers and spying on workers. Yet Clinton has said that she’s “proud” of her time on the board of the world’s largest corporation. This year it was revealed that Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton had donated $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund. The Waltons, who’re collectively worth about $150 billion, own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. And make no mistake: Unions are good for women. As women are further and further pushed into starvation-waged, poverty-engineering employment, the protections and workplace democracy that unions can provide are disproportionately important to women. The Clintons, champions of union-killing free trade agreements, have always been anti-union. Indeed, back in Arkansas, they both sought to impose austerity over the women-heavy public sector and weaken teachers’ unions, even though K-12 teachers are overwhelmingly women.
On healthcare, Clinton long ago during the 1990s left the single-payer option off the table, despite the fact if the state universally provided healthcare it would mean women wouldn’t have to depend on being married or their bosses for their healthcare. No women should depend on their husbands or employers — women make up 14.2 percent of executives at S&P 500 firms according to a 2015 analysis — on their healthcare. Concurrently, since women make up about 60 percent of U.S. college students, they would also benefit from tuition-free public colleges and universities, as well as dramatically lower student debt refinancing.
Back in the 1990s the Clinton's ended “welfare as we know it” by Bill Clinton’s signing of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which replaced the more humane Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with a much more stingy one. And this disproportionately harmed single mothers and women of color. In an April 2002 interview with the Gettysburg Times, she called welfare recipients “deadbeats.” She’s also referred to poor, ghettoized black children as “superpredators” as her husband caused the biggest prison expansion in U.S. history. I’m sure incarcerated women or the mothers, sisters and wives of the incarcerated wouldn’t say Hillary’s with them.
Let’s perhaps ask Berta Cáceres, an Honduran indigenous leader, if Hillary Clinton has been a feminist abroad. Well, we can’t, because she was murdered by the illegitimate Honduran government, which came to power in a coup d’état which ratcheted up gendered violence. That is the case the world over, and for that reason the women of Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Hait and Honduras wouldn’t call Hillary a feminist either considering the damage she’s done to those countries as a senator and Secretary of State. Only a narrow, self-serving, bourgeois feminism would call Clinton a “feminist” with conviction.
José Sanchez is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history with minors in political science and Latino and Caribbean studies. His column, “The Champagne Socialist,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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