When Hillary Clinton snagged the Democratic presidential nomination, many “feminists” roared with victory. As the presidential race draws to a close, Clinton’s slight lead is exciting these “feminists,” but why are they praising the win of a woman who is not fighting for everyone?
Feminism stands for the rights of everyone, whether they are a person of color, a person who identifies outside of the gender binary or both. Those who think true feminists only want equity for people who identify as women are slightly misinformed.
Feminism is rooted in intersectionality, bridging social justice movements from Black Lives Matter to sexual assault awareness advocacy. Coined by critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is the idea that oppression often intersects across various identities, creating many different experiences of discrimination. If feminism were not intersectional, the fight for equity would be wasted.
If the movement is only for the benefit of white people, especially white women, then what is the point? Equity would not be accomplished, and people who do not identify as white women would still be struggling. It is common for justice to move in phases from white men, to men of color, to white women and then to women and people of color. However, this phase system is not relieving all people from oppression quickly enough.
However, there are feminists that many call “liberal feminists,” commonly made up of white people who identify as women. These liberal feminists often ignore intersectionality to focus on the empowerment of women politically and encourage women to be leaders even when they may not want to. Through this kind of encouragement, liberal feminists damage other minority groups as the recognition of experiences felt by intersecting identities is missing.
According to Solidarity, in 2009, Clinton voiced support for a coup in Honduras, which led 176 LGBTQIA+ members to murderous deaths by 2014. Although Clinton has recently spoken about preventing crimes against people who are LGBTQIA+, her decision to support post-coup Honduras is problematic and not intersectional.
While Clinton has called for an increase in women’s rights in countries with large Muslim populations, the United States has killed women in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with its drone strikes. Clinton’s historical support to expand military operations in the Middle East is against true feminism, as more women of color are murdered with each passing day.
When Clinton claims she is a woman who represents every woman’s fight for equity, her liberal feminism blatantly peeks through. Not only has Clinton supported laws that have bound people of color to discrimination, but the issues she has chosen to support internationally have damaged feminism worldwide. Clinton stands up for women like herself: White mothers who do not have race and class barriers to keep them from living.
Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine for vice president is one of her latest unfeminist actions. Kaine has voiced support against abortion in the past, although he presently says he is only pro-life religiously.
Feminists who support Clinton without acknowledging her inability to think intersectionally are just like white suffrage movement leader Susan B. Anthony, who refused to fight for the rights of people of color.
Defining feminism as only the right for women to live rich lives of leadership is problematic, inaccessible and only sending the United States back in time.
Although Clinton has fought against sexism and discrimination as a woman in the political system, that does not forgive her actions against people of color and people who are LGBTQIA+. She may have a racist and sexist opponent, but that does not make Clinton a true feminist.
To be a true feminist is to recognize the experiences of all people and fight against intersectional oppression, not just the ones that affect white women.
Although Clinton may not be a feminist who currently acts intersectionally, that does not mean she cannot grow and learn to incorporate intersectionality into her actions.