The Feminism of Hillary Clinton: Why Women Can’t Have Nice...

The Spin Zone | Noel Anderson | April 12, 2016

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Since its introduction into popular culture and society, feminism has maintained a negative stigma implemented by several factors. In almost all cases, feminism and the empowerment of women is shamed by the very structures it seeks to destroy—that is, misogyny and gender disparity or inequality. To first understand why this is the case, we must delve into the history of the movement itself.

Feminism is defined as the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, and is represented by organized activity in support of women’s rights and interest.

The first installation of feminism, or the First Wave, occurred alongside the Suffragette movement. This included household names like Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women fought for their right to vote alongside men by staging marches and protests, initiating the social movement. As you can guess, it was successful. The Second Wave came in the late 1960’s with the protest of the Miss America Pageant and a much more determined, radical concept of what it meant to be a woman. The Third Wave of the 1990’s was more muted the previous movements, however it did not lack potency.

Millions of women in Western society have been shaped by the feminist movement, with the most prominent at this moment in American history being former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton first became known with the governance of her husband and former president, Bill Clinton. During this time in the early 1990s, Secretary Clinton received backlash for her nontraditional and professional background as an attorney, which was seen by many as unsupportive of American family values that did not coincide with the role of First Lady, both of Arkansas and then of the United States.

Hillary Clinton herself is a dichotomy the likes of which American politics have never known; uncharted territory. She has considered herself a feminist for many years and has addressed issues facing women around the world. A prominent example of this is her speech as first lady in Beijing in 1995, in which she addressed prominent women’s rights issues like gender inequity and violence against women worldwide.

Secretary Clinton’s brief stint in the Senate also leads some to disapprove of her leadership, given events like Benghazi and the issue of the use of her personal email account for classified information. While her work as First Lady and Secretary of State has supported women’s rights, some believe that her support of women is stunted by privilege. Early feminists like Olympes de Gouge certainly were of a higher status when they wrote literature that emphasized the importance of women in society prior to the First Wave, but in those days only those protected by status could experience gender equality.

Clinton herself is a role model to women in that she undisputedly is educated, independent, and a political leader. However this stems from her political status, something that is currently necessary in the United States to procure all of these things.

A term that has gained clout in recent years is “white feminism,” which describes a type of feminism that marginalizes minority women by creating a feminism that caters to women with social mobility. The “white” aspect of this acknowledges that historically, women of a lighter color have been able to achieve more because of what is deemed socially acceptable, and the resources that coincide (i.e. education and employment). Acknowledging Hillary Clinton’s status as a strong woman and a white women does not make her any less powerful, nor does it make her any less detrimental to feminism. This is because as a movement, feminism eradicates society’s concepts of race, gender identity, sexuality and economic status. The power of feminism is derived from the collective power and unity of women who seek to be treated as equal and achieve the same resources and stature as their male counterparts. However, this has much more purpose and initiative when that includes all women.

In our day and age, technological advances shape how we move and communicate with others. This allows us to not only help others less fortunate than us, but to educate one another on how to do so, and how their situations may be different than ours. The potential of the empowerment of women ensures the enrichment of society as a whole, and while that is promising, it only comes with effort. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president is an incredible step for America in terms of the advancement of women, but we must not forget the accomplishments and struggles of women before her to ensure a future for other women who are still marginalized by society for their race, gender identity, sexuality and economic demographic.