Recently, Chelsea Clinton came to campus to discuss women’s leadership with community members and students here at Wake Forest.
The stop, which was for the Hillary Clinton campaign, did indeed focus on women’s leadership, and Chelsea responded to many questions from students about gender discrimination and how her mother’s campaign was working to promote equality. Despite the arguments Chelsea presented on her mother’s behalf and Hillary’s own statements, whether or not Hillary is a feminist has been a point of contention for young voters. Looking at her background, however, it’s made clear that Hillary Clinton is the feminist choice for president.
Clinton has repeatedly called herself a feminist, a word she defined in a 2014 interview as “favoring equal rights for women.” Her history working for women’s issues goes all the way back to when she graduated law school and began her work with the Children’s Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to child advocacy. Since so much of the work of raising a child falls on the shoulders of women, this work was significant in Clinton’s history as a feminist, because it marked the beginning of her long career advocating for women. A 2016 “U.S. News” article recalled that Clinton introduced eight pieces of legislature for the protection of reproductive rights and the availability of emergency contraception while serving as a senator. Many young feminists embraced Bernie Sanders in the primaries — his voting record is, in fact, pro-women. However, unlike Clinton, Sanders had not prioritized pro-women policies in the same way Clinton has prioritized them.
In terms of intersectional feminism, Clinton’s presidential platform also highlights helping women of color in the U.S. By increasing minimum wage, fighting for paid leave and creating access to affordable childcare, Clinton’s policies would help these women support their families and themselves. Maya Harris, a policy advisor for Clinton, stated in an interview with the “Huffington Post” that Clinton has plans “to increase access to capital” for women, particularly African-American women. This would create opportunities unforeseen in the past for women of color to build their own careers and businesses and to work towards both gender and racial equality.
Clinton’s life highlights much of why she is the feminist choice and why the U.S. needs women in political offices. A recent piece from the popular “Humans of New York” blog allowed her to tell her story. She recalled taking her law school admissions exam while being harassed by male students who told her that she “didn’t need to be” there. She stayed focused and controlled her emotions. This experience is not unique to Clinton; women all over the world and even here at Wake Forest have felt targeted for their gender. Her openness and willingness to talk about what it means to be a woman in a high-pressure situation demonstrates how qualified she is. She’s aware of her gender and its role in this election, and she wants that to be something she shares with the American people. For many women, seeing how strong Hillary Clinton is under fire is a reminder that gender is not a determinate of how successful you can be but that it is perseverance, aptitude and attitude that are.
For young voters, Cliton’s image is based on her email scandal and Benghazi, and not her background. Voting for Clinton isn’t feminist because she is a woman; it’s feminist because of her history which serves as proof that should she enter the Oval Office, she’ll prioritize and advocate for women whenever the opportunity arises.
By Clara Ilkka, [email protected]
For College Democrats