When you're conducting political change, you need to know who you're dealing with*. After Iowa and New Hampshire, it's clear Clinton needs women to win, but which ones, if not all? I wrote a piece on BlogHer.com about thirtysomething women and Hillary Clinton. In New Hampshire Tuesday, 57% of voters were female, of those, 46% voted for Clinton. Hillary won among all age groups except 18-24 (which she never expected) and 30-39 year olds (36% Clinton, 42% Obama). I have not been able to find cross-tabs by age and gender, but all 30-39 year olds in N.H cannot be male. In Iowa, younger women did not vote for Hillary, and it hurt her there. And Tuesday, although the numbers were tighter, more women 30-39 voted for Obama too.
I've culled some responses from BlogHer.com below because they highlight just how complicated the women's vote is, and what's wrong with our contemporary perspective on the women and voting, with its "you go girl" suppositions that women should, and will, vote for Hillary. Both assume women share priorities. Maybe it's just not diverse enough. I wrote on BlogHer:
Why didn't thirtysomething women vote for Clinton? I think it's the way that a vote for Hillary symbolized not only a vote for old-fashioned politics, but for old-fashioned feminism (and old fashioned white feminism- see here for whattamisaid). Even Tuesday night, I heard some anchor relating Hillary's focus on children's issues and health care, "you know, women's issues" as key to her success with women. Not so fast. ALL voters yesterday stated the economy as their number 1 concern, but too often Hillary has pitched her career to sound like that of a liberal social worker's in an attempt to appeal to women. To many women of my generation, do-gooder feminism leaves us cold. It's tired, out of touch, and not nuanced enough for the everyday sexism and scary realities of our world.
Oddly enough, I think it took a reminder from the godmother of feminism, Gloria Steinem, to wake us up; or perhaps Steinem just expressed what many women were thinking. She wrote:
Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.
It's time, and on Tuesday, most women voted for Hillary. Older women have understood that and overwhelmingly support Clinton, but younger women have been slower to support Hillary. I think, though, we are realizing that perhaps having a woman in the White House will let us breathe a little easier at work.
For my two cents, Rita Arens (age bucket: 30-39) put it best:
I'm voting for Hillary for the same reason I lost my virginity - holding onto it until I found the perfect guy was becoming such an elevated ideal that I was never going to find a guy perfect enough to deserve it, my purity, my lotus flower, my blooming womanhood. I was going to walk around forever, deeming every man I met not worthy, until I finally ruined myself of finding love anywhere, my expectations unrealistic. So I slept with the guy I was dating at the time. I got it over with. And then I moved on to the rest of my life.
This country needs to just go ahead and elect a woman already. It's time. We all know it's time, are itching to just GET IT OVER WITH, get a woman in office and put an end to the questions of whether or not her PMS is going to interfere with her foreign policy. Hey, I'm a woman, and I'm an emotional wreck, but I'm not the kind of woman who is going to run for public office. The kind of woman who runs for public office has big, brass balls of her own that she wears on a pearl strand around her neck. The kind of woman who runs for office stands next to her husband while he's talking about whether or not he had his dick sucked by an intern and then the next year runs for Senate. Folks, Hillary isn't going to break into tears over much. She's a female politician, and she's tough. Give her the job. Let's get this over with.
I thought- many young women are coming around to Hillary because despite our hesitancy to re-join the Feminist Majority, we know it's time. Many responses to my post disagreed with this "logic." And I learned something from their answers, something I, as a thirtysomething white woman, don't think about much. Something I hope campaign staffers are listening closely to.
As Rikyrah wrote:
GENDER is the most restrictive force in America?
Then I guess she [Steinem] lives in a different America, because from where I am, RACE is, and always has been, THE most restrictive force.
WOmen got the vote after Black men.
Tell that to the members of my family.
I guess she just ignored that my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, though, by law in the Constitution HAD the right to vote after the Civil War, it was that silly thing called JIM CROW that prevented Blacks from having LEGALLY FULL CITIZENSHIP UNTIL 1964, which is, what, FORTY FIVE YEARS after women got the right to vote?
If my father hadn't of moved up north, that would have meant, that he would have been FORTY-FIVE YEARS OLD before his FULL CITIZENSHIP would have been honored....AFTER putting his life on the line and fighting for this country in WWII.
There are, what, 9 White Female Governors?
1 Black male Governor.
Gloria Steinem's NYT article was clearly directed to young, white females. Of privilege. She lives in a headspace that I could never occupy, would never want to occupy. Her arguments were specious at best and all I took away from the article was that her oppression was greater than my oppression. (I'm sorry...I should stop here and mention that I read the article yesterday and got pissed. As the day wore on, I was downright livid at Steinem's presumptions, assumptions and petty pitifulness.)...
As a female, I would love to see a woman in the WH. Hey, I thought I'd be the first female president. And if I was just any woman, I'd probably even be happy to get in line with the sheeple and vote for Sen. Clinton. But I'm not.
Background: Not only have completely entrenched myself in politics since I was 8 (I'm 35 now), but I do have a very long political memory and more important (to me at least) I am a Black woman. I'm a fierce Democrat and I hold all Democrats to the same standard: Don't suck.
Marilyn, an Obama supporter in her 50's:
What worries me...35 years after I embraced feminism--in the days when Gloria was our shero--the only female candidate who's considered remotely viable is Hillary Clinton. Why is there not any conversation about THAT? If you've seen that dialogue, please direct me to it...
And finally, from Maria Niles in a different post:
I am seeing more and more of my white sisters saying that one of the reasons Hillary Clinton should be elected is because of the powerful, world changing, patriarchy smashing, awesome and beautiful message it would send. And I agree it would. But when you imply or flat out say that having a white woman in the White House is more important than having a black man there, that hurts my feelings as Hillary Clinton might say.
I hear you now Maria, and I respect you deeply. But I still disagree. Women are the majority: in the US, in the world. It's time, and it's simply fair. And Hillary's a good choice.
None of these responses are poll-tested or statistically significant, but they do point to the BIG questions: Who are the women's vote? Can Hillary pull together enough of us to win?
*Hat tip to my professor, Ronald Heifetz
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