The first democratic debate of the election season was one hell of a show. In one corner, we had Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, yelling about unemployment and trying to talk about gun control for longer than his time limit. In the other corner, we had Hillary Clinton, former first lady and secretary of state, riding on the coattails of her gender and avoiding crafting an actual argument about any talking point all night long. And there were some other people up there but nobody paid any attention to them.
One might assume that all feminists everywhere are going to vote for Hillary. Some might suggest that, if you’re a woman, you should vote for Hillary. But I have a question to raise about that: Why? Why should we vote for Hillary? Because she’s a woman? Because America is ready for a female president? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason. Hillary’s gender isn’t a good enough reason. Feminism isn’t about putting women in power purely because they are women. Feminism is about creating the space for women to run for office and be treated fairly in their candidacy. Being a feminist means that you look at all of the candidates with the same harsh eye, not favoring one gender over another. Voting for a candidate purely because she is woman is almost as bad, I would argue, as not voting for that candidate for the same reason.
Saying “I’m not going to vote for Hillary because she’s a woman” is sexist. Arguing that a woman shouldn’t hold office because she’s a woman and she’s “cold” and “robotic” and her PMS will get in the way of her lawmaking, is sexist. Saying “I’m going to vote for Hillary because she’s a woman” is also sexist. Hillary Clinton’s genitalia do not have a place on her presidential platform. Her gender has no place on her résumé. What voters should be considering in this year to come is not who has what private parts. We should be considering our candidates’ viability. We should be considering their policies and their platforms. We should be voting for the person who is most qualified and most beneficial — not the one who is most novel.
I hear a lot of my peers joking that they’re going to vote for Donald Trump because it’d be “funny.” I hear a lot of my parents’ and grandparents’ peers saying they’re going to vote for Trump because he’s a businessman and we need a “change in power.” There is a parallel argument for Hillary Clinton. I hear a lot of people saying they are going to vote for her because America is ready for the first female president. These voters aren’t backing Trump and Clinton because they are what’s best for the country; they are backing Trump and Clinton for the novelty of their campaign. Hillary taking office would be exciting and new because, all of a sudden, the United States will have a woman in power.
According to a 2014 analysis of elections done by the U.S. Census Bureau, “in every presidential election since 1964, young voters between the ages of 18 through 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups.” Our age group is consistently the least politically efficacious but we are strong in numbers and opinions. So, my peers, I implore you: show up to vote. But first, read about your candidates. Learn their stances on the issues even if they avoid talking about them like Hillary did, deflecting multiple questions with the answer “I am a woman.” Find out as much about the consistency or inconsistency of the people who want your vote. The young vote, the vote of people 30 and under (that’s us), is desperately important and it should be taken seriously.
Do not waste your political voice on a funny joke. Do not waste it on ignorance. Do your research and, if you vote for Hillary, vote for her because you like her policies, not because you like her gender. Rile up your inner patriot, go out and find the candidate who is for the things you’re for. Root not for the underdog but for the man or woman best sui
Natalie Dulka is a sophomore English Writing and Theatre Art double major from Minneapolis, MN. She keeps herself occupied by holding the position of Chief Executive Officer of Feminism Club, being involved with the theater, and writing plays. Her passions include sarcasm, wool socks, and equality.