Whether you vote for her or not, please recognize that her nomination has eliminated another male bastion.
Many Millennial women are unimpressed by Hillary Clinton’s presumed presidential nomination. They argue that her success isn’t a true feminist victory because she is still white, still rich, still part of the political elite. Now I don’t believe anyone should ultimately cast their vote for Clinton just because she is a woman any more than I believe it’s reasonable to vote against her solely because of her gender, but we should recognize that her nomination is a step forward for women in our country.
In John McCain’s 2008 presidential concession speech, he led with an acknowledgment of the historical significance of President Obama’s election.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
He obviously did not agree with Obama’s politics, but still appreciated the importance of the broken barrier. Clinton’s nomination has equal significance.
I am a 45-year-old woman. I have been paid less than my male colleagues. I have been criticized for being too outspoken. I have endured work meetings where a man receives full credit for an idea I offered up because no one listened when I spoke. I am overjoyed to see the glass ceiling of a high level political office broken because it offers some vindication for the misogyny I faced at work.
I understand that Millennials have a different experience. I don’t expect a young person to understand or even care about workforce challenges I dealt with 20 years ago. But Clinton’s nomination is significant in light of current events. For example, consider the case of Brock Turner.
Turner is the poster boy of white male privilege. A judge sentenced him to only six months of prison for multiple counts of sexual assault. Turner’s father supports his son’s delusion that all he did wrong was have too much to drink.
In the last week, Turner’s victim has set the world on fire with a powerful statement. Instead of allowing her rape to be diminished by the privileged males involved in the case, she clearly establishes her voice in defining what happened during and after the attack. She does not allow herself to be shouted down.
I’m in awe of the victim. I hope her statement becomes a tipping point where the rape and sexual assault of women can no longer be so easily minimized. However, women also need to understand that this is not just a battle of victims vs. the justice system.
White male privilege exists because men control so many aspects of our society, including our political system. The same men who reduce rape to a drunken “20 minutes of action” also shut down Planned Parenthood clinics, deny maternity leave to poor women, and appoint their misogynistic cronies to positions in our justice system. The power these men hold needs to be challenged on every front, not just within the courts.
Clinton’s nomination is a blow against the same privilege that got Turner out of a fair prison sentence. Clinton herself has endured rabid misogyny throughout her career and through it all she has not been shouted down either. She has been the lone female voice in many a boy’s club. So whether you vote for her or not, please recognize that her nomination has eliminated another male bastion. This is not an end point—there is still much work to do in terms of making feminism intersectional—but it is a milestone worth our reflection.
Anne Penniston Grunsted writes about parenting, disability, and family life from her perspective as a lesbian mama. She has been published in The Washington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, Mamamia, and won the 2014 Nonfiction prize from Beecher’s Magazine. She lives in Chicago with her partner and son.