As we were talking about the SC primaries with our girls, I explained that I would be voting in the democratic primary the week they would be in Asheville with their mom. Our girls are 8 and 5 and both of them said I should vote for Hillary. I asked why, wanting to know what they had heard about Hillary as a candidate. They promptly explained, “Because she is a woman and it would be cool to have a woman president.”
I have to agree with them that it would be pretty awesome to have a female president, but voting for a candidate just because she is a woman undermines what I believe as a feminist. I work in an overwhelming, male-dominated profession. Although my brand of baptist often claims to have separated from the Southern Baptist Convention because of the view of women in the Faith and Baptist Message, moderate baptist churches still find it difficult to consider much less call women into ministry positions. Even when women are called to the pastorate or to ministry positions, they are making less than men.
I understand the draw of having a woman president to say that we have a woman president. Perhaps it would equal the playing field professionally and the mere presence of a woman as the leader of our country would serve to combat the inherent sexism that exists in our public rhetoric. Maybe by simply having a woman president domestic and sexual violence against women would be reduced.
Although I want all these things to be true and am working as a woman to do my part, I won’t hold up Hillary Clinton as a role model for our girls. Because although she has many accomplishments, I wonder if she would have been the first woman elected in New York had she not first been First Lady. This begs the question of whether she is teaching women to be your own woman or to marry well in order to get into the public eye, especially as she suspended her own presidential campaign and then became the Secretary of State. Is she fighting for women’s right or working to uphold a broken, inherently sexist political system?
The other real issue I have with Hillary as a role model for our daughters and women all over our country is her timeless, ageless demeanor. As someone who is concerned about the beauty standards that are already impacting our 8 year old and 5 year old, holding up a woman who has had plastic surgery in order to look younger and who dyes her hair in order to look younger is concerning. Are we teaching women they can’t age and still be respected?
It does matter that we haven’t had a woman president, but electing someone just because she is a woman isn’t the answer and could only serve to push women’s rights even further backwards.
Because if Hillary Rodham were running for president, none of us would know who she was.