The ballot box is our tool to use as we please and we can change history with it, and no one can prevent us from using that power because of our gender.
I’m a woman, a feminist, and a Democrat. I know I should be all-in for Hillary Clinton but, I gotta say, I’m feeling the Bern! Am I betraying the core values of feminism by voting for a man when there’s a woman candidate in the race?
- Possible Traitor
I dig Bernie Sanders, I really, really do, but every time I see the hashtag #FeelTheBern, I want to respond with “there’s an ointment for that.” It’s possible that I am not mature enough to participate in the electoral process.
Do you know how long women have had the right to vote in this country? 96 years. For women of color, even less time than that. Yeah. We declared independence from monarchy 240 year ago by asserting that white dudes were people, Black people were 3/5 of people, and women were dependent tax write-offs. Black men were (grudgingly) given the right to vote after the Civil War.
Women? Still functioned as democratic chattel. It took a lot of badass broads like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, among scores of others (some whose contributions were erased or ignored), being beaten, belittled, and jailed to get women the right to vote.
The 19th Amendment to give women the right to vote was introduced in 1878. It wasn't ratified until 1920. It took 42 years for America to accept the idea that women were smart enough, responsible enough, and citizen enough to participate in the most fundamental right and responsibility of being an American.
By 1912, some states had passed laws allowing women to vote. One such state, Montana, elected the first woman to Congress in 1916. Imagine being a woman voting on the laws of the land four years before universal suffrage for women. Trails are blazed, and we don’t always know the names of the trailblazers. Representative Jeanette Rankin doesn’t get nearly enough recognition.
So what does all of this have to do with the senator from Vermont and his bid for the presidency? Everything. Women are massing behind Bernie because his populist view of government’s responsibilities is appealing. He needs women to win any election. Any politician needs women to win an election.
What’s good for women is good for the nation and any candidate who ignores that ignores it at their peril.
Being a woman in an election year means being sought after and powerful. The ballot box is our tool to use as we please, and we can change history with it. No one can prevent us from using that power because of our gender.
That is one of the goals of feminism: to give women equal voice in democracy. The candidate you choose is not a betrayal of feminism. The betrayal would be in sitting out the election and forfeiting the right women before you bled to attain.
So, feel the Bern if that’s what you feel. Or proudly stand and declare “I’m with her” when Hillary hits the stage. Or wave your flag for Martin O’Malley if he’s the guy you like. Voting for the GOP candidates is still a feminist act because voting is a feminist act.
Register and vote. It’s your right. It’s your privilege. It’s your responsibility. It’s the electing that makes you a feminist, not the candidate.