By all accounts, Hillary Clinton's status as the first female to clinch the presidential nominee to a major political party is an accomplishment for feminism, but delve deeper and you'll realize it is not a direct win for feminism. And while many feminists rejoice in this fact and proudly proclaim their allegiance to Clinton, others, such as myself are none too pleased. Now before you question my validity as a feminist; before you denounce me as a true feminist, consider these next few points. After an exhausting internal monologue, in which I tried to determine if my own refusal to vote for Clinton made me a bad feminist, I arrived at the conclusion that I am not a bad feminist, in fact, I'd argue the contrary.
Perhaps the biggest barrier separating Clinton's nomination from being an accomplishment for feminism, and being a major accomplishment for feminism is the demographics of her supporters. According to a June, 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the demographic that best describes a Clinton supporter is a black woman around the age of 18-29 with democratic leaning. More specifically, 59% of Clinton's supporters are women themselves, amounting to nearly 2/3 of her potential votes. Conversely, almost half (49%) of Trump supporters are male, while women account for only 35% of supporters. What we can presume from these numbers is a general allegiance to one's own sex. Accordingly, a true win for gender equality would show a diversity in support-- ideally, we would see a larger percentage of male Clinton supporters. It is not a secret that men are still wary of a female president, and that does not bode well when it comes to equality.
Not only are Clinton's supporters mostly women, they are overwhelmingly Democratic as well (91%). Now this is not a surprise, considering Clinton is a Democrat. However, what we know about voters is they are more likely to vote with the party they identify and affiliate with, as opposed to voting for a particular candidate. Clinton and Trump supporters are no exception to this rule. Only about 5% of Democrats surveyed in the June Pew Research survey admitted to favoring Trump, while 8% of Republican leaning voters favored Clinton. So presumably, a left-wing voter may have supported any Democratic candidate, regardless of gender. Despite the inherent appeal of this narrative; despite the implications this election could have on establishing gender equality, I'm doubtful that the 2016 election has anything to do with feminism.
Another indication that this election is not a true promotion of gender equality is both the lack of zeal surrounding support, as well as the admission that majority of potential votes for Clinton and Trump will be against the other candidate. It is widely apparent that this election is widely divisive and polarized, and that observation can be supported by raw numbers as well. Half of Clinton supporters admitted that their vote will be to negate a Trump vote, not promote Clinton in any way. In terms of Democratic support, this type of voting behavior has never been witnessed to this extent. For example, only 22% of Democratic votes in the 2012 election were against the Republican opponent, 25% in the 2008 election, 37% in 2004, and 30% in 2000. Furthermore, only 45% of Clinton supporters identify as "strong" supporters of Clinton. Comparably, 60% of Democratic voters "strongly" supported their candidate in the 2012 election. As a New York Time's article suggested, Clinton (as well as Trump) are "winning votes, not hearts" . A typical Clinton supporter has been noted as less passionate, less generous with monetary contributions, less "in your face", and overall, pretty lethargic. While a Trump supporter will make their political alliance glaringly and admittedly, obnoxiously apparent, a Clinton supporter will privately revel in their support. In fact, such privatization of political support has led many to question, "who the hell is voting for Clinton?". Despite the lack of impassioned Facebook commentators, Clinton maintains more support than Trump in every poll or survey conducted. So we know Clinton supporters exist, and we know they're are plenty of them.
What we're not seeing is people gathering in troves to make history. We're not seeing people excited for the prospect of a female president. We're not seeing the passion of a society bridging the gap between gender inequality and gender equality.
In this election there is no such thing as merely disliking a candidate. Unfavorable opinions come in the form of unadulterated resentment intermingled with intense distrust. It seems like you either hate Clinton, hate Trump, or hate both. This type of deep resentment and distrust should not be allowed to represent our first female president. A woman who underwent an FBI investigation; a woman widely regarded as corrupt and dishonest should not be the face of women in politics. The lack of zeal surrounding her, her lack of universal acceptance, her unfavorable ratings and scandals should not be allowed to represent America's first female president.
I want to see a woman in the oval office, but I'm content with waiting. I'll wait until a woman comes along to inspire many, not just fellow women and their own political party. I'll wait until a woman comes along to depolarize our political climate. I'll wait for a woman to come along who attains not only support, but strong, unwavering support. I'll wait for an impassioned nation. I will wait. I won't take "what I've been given and shut up."
America deserves better. Women deserve better.