To be or not to be – a feminist. Hillary’s struggle between self perception and responsabilities

Ex first lady Hillary Clinton is surely the most likely to become America’s first female President in history. But would one woman at the top bring a true change for all the others?

hillary clinton feministAs debates over feminism appear to have opened the hugest contemporary divide, Hillary Clinton has made it perfectly clear: she has no problem with being perceived as a champion of feminism. During her 2008 candidacy, the National Organization of Women endorsed her because of her “long history of support for women’s empowerment.” 250 academics and activists, Feminists for Clinton, praised her “powerful, inspiring advocacy of the human rights of women” and her “enormous contributions” as a policymaker and champion of both female and LGBT rights.

She recently declared she doesn’t believe there’s “anything controversial” about simply supporting equal rights for women, and she also addressed those who view feminism as old-fashioned or out of date, saying, “I don’t think you’ve lived long enough.”

The trouble is, according to her opponents, she’s no champion for the cause. They stress her unconditional support to her husband, back in the 1990s, against all accusations of cheatings and sexual assaults. And they trace it back to her need to escalate politically using Bill’s name: “not exactly the feminist way of being your own, empowered woman”. As for her career, there isn’t much for feminists to be excited about. Hillary’s foundation, they claim, has accepted money from countries like Saudi Arabia that legally discriminate against women. And, beyond that, she is now speaking out against the gender wage gap when she had her own wage gap while she was a U.S. senator.

Moreover the presence of women in power, instead of implying new opportunities, may actively prevent other women from advancing. To prove this point, researches analyzed the top tiers of 1,500 firms and discovered that once the first woman has been appointed in a management role, the chances of another female colleague joining her halve.

If Clinton is to be the first feminist president as well as the first female one, she’ll have to do more than simply personify change; she’ll actually have to bring some. She could start by revisiting some inequalities in the justice system, taking action on the gender wage gap, listening to the people’s opinion on contraception, abortion and miscarrying… As the former U.S. Secretary of State, Clinton discussed how feminism plays a key role in the U.S.’s foreign policy. “Women and girls … are central to our foreign policy,” she said, explaining that nations that support women are more stable and “less likely to breed extremism.”

Hopefully, if elected, she will also legislate accordingly. For some supporters, whatever happens after Clinton reaches the White House is almost beside the point, anyway. It would be a triumph for feminism no matter how she turns out to be. When young American girls see a woman in the highest office, they’ll believe in equal opportunities, in being aware of their own talents, abilities, and that with hard work they can grow up to be whatever they want to be.

 

Maria Felicita Ferraro

Pubblicato il 27 aprile 2015

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