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Newsflash: young women can think for themselves

December 28th, 2009 · 8 Comments

Excuse me, but why are there still  articles like these coming out about how young women neglected to vote for Hillary Clinton? The latest, in WaPo this past weekend, recounts how former vice-presidental candidate Geraldine Ferraro lost it when her daughter didn’t vote for Clinton. An excerpt:

Ferraro was livid, and distraught. What more did Hillary Clinton have to do to prove herself? How could anyone — least of all Ferraro’s own daughter — fail to grasp the historic significance of electing a woman president, in probably the only chance the country would have to do so for years to come?

…Mothers and grandmothers who saw themselves in Clinton and formed the core of her support faced a confounding phenomenon: Their daughters did not much care whether a woman won or lost. There was nothing, in their view, all that special about electing a woman — particularly this woman — president. Not when the milestone of electing an African American president was at hand.

Didn’t it ever occur to Ferraro that young women can think for themselves? Ferraro’s daughter undoubtedly did grasp the significance of a woman president. It’s just that Clinton wasn’t the woman for her. Not because, as the article hypothesizes, “[s]he was the wrong woman at the wrong time; she was a Clinton; she hadn’t gotten there on her own; a woman could be elected another year.” Most likely because she pondered the candidates’ policies and campaign promises like any other normal person. Ferraro’s comments eerily echo the opportunistic language of the GOP and other off-the-mark journalists, who criticized feminists for not supporting Sarah Palin just because she was a woman. It doesn’t quite take that plunge, but it’s dangerously teetering.

Personally, I didn’t vote for Hillary because she endorsed the Iraq War–an inexcusable move that went against my core value system (of course, I didn’t know at the time the extent Obama was going to escalate action in Afghanistan, but anyway…). And that’s only one of the many factors I weighed when I voted in the primary. I did believe that Hillary would be an advocate for women’s rights, but, based on his campaign, I felt the same way about Barack. And so far, he’s been pretty good–by overturning the Global Gag Rule and signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay act–and although I’m disturbed by the increasingly anti-choice language in the health care debate, I’m not convinced that Clinton would have any more power in this case.

It’s also disturbing that the author of the piece assumes young women privilege race issues over that of gender. And yeah, some people feel that way, including some of our Girldrive interviewees. Still, I know I’m not alone when I say that I don’t think of them as competing issues. I think of race as intertwined with gender, that sexism worsens racism and the other way around. That’s the thing about our generation–we’re holistic, intersectional, and adverse to boxes. We’re the generation trying to break down the unproductive cycle of the oppression Olympics. And yes, more than a few of us are feminists. It’s just that the mainstream press seldom pays attention to us.

This isn’t the first time the Washington Post has made me livid with a piece chastising young people, with an extra-special focus on females. These kinds of articles insult the intelligence of young women everywhere, and I’m starting to get really damn sick of them.

UPDATE: Katy and Jessica are equally pissed.

Tags: Generations · Stop chastising young people · Young Women in the News

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Megan R. // Dec 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree. I’m really pissed off that this kind of vitriol continues to be directed towards us by the women that are supposed to be on our side! Where does this come from? And why now, more than a year after the election? I’d really like to see an Op-ed published next week in the Post responding to this short and unfounded article.

  • 2 Whatsgood // Dec 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Um, yeah. This article’s argument is facile and insulting. Jezebel had a pithy and bullshit-calling post on this earlier today: http://jezebel.com/5435394/young-women-dont-care-about-feminism-and-other-such-myths

  • 3 AntoniaF // Dec 28, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    To be fair, there is an argument that young people might privilege race issues over gender issues (in fact, I felt that from the women of color in Girldrive somewhat). That said, I don’t think that’s why Obama got elected and not Clinton–AT ALL.

  • 4 jq // Dec 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I agree with you completely… but there’s one line above that gives me pause: ” I didn’t vote for Hillary because she endorsed the Iraq War.” while Obama failed to “endorse” the war, based on his current policy and actions in afghanistan, don’t you think he was merely purchasing political capital?
    in an effort to avoid rambling, i’ll simply say that yes, young women CAN and DO think for themselves… on this fact, we are in agreement. when it comes to Clinton, i did give her my vote, but i would never strip another woman of her feminist cred because she chose to vote differently.

  • 5 Nona // Dec 28, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    jq: I totally agree re the obama/afghanistan thing, but at the time, his stance on foreign policy was the lesser of two evils for me. My views in general on the Obama administration have changed a lot–but the point is, yes, my decision was thought-out and, most likely, so was that of Geraldine Ferraro’s daughter!

  • 6 Martha // Jan 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Nona, enjoy your website. Disagree with you here. Those articles are important and your remarks to Matthew Rothschild backed the need for those articles up as you spoke of what happened when you got out of NYC.
    As for your comment: ” I totally agree re the obama/afghanistan thing, but at the time, his stance on foreign policy was the lesser of two evils for me.” Did you think it out full? I think an argument can be made for people who claim they did think it out that would go something like this: (A) “Okay, Obama was against the war before it started.” (B) Next step would be to examine his posture when he was in the Senate. (C) If he knew it was wrong from the start, his voting record in the Senate (identical to Clinton’s on Iraq) would have been twice as wrong because he knew better.
    Sorry to disagree. (I voted for Ralph, if you’re wondering.) Loved the interview and have ordered Girl-Drive from Amazon.
    Woops. The interview is with Matthew Rothschild for The Progressive Radio and Nona’s the only guest so they get to really explore. I didn’t see a link up yet, so here it is:

    http://www.progressive.org/radio/nona10.html

    Since Afghanistan was mentioned in the thread, one more thing: Barack Obama kept none of his promises on Iraq. And Iraqis continue dying every day.

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