I’m a woman, but when I saw Hillary Clinton’s latest ad, I didn’t want to be one. I didn’t have any particular desire to be a man; it’s just I’m sick and tired of being co-opted into things because I’m a woman, especially when the co-opting is so patronizing.
Maybe Clinton’s campaign manager isn’t aware of this, but the logic presented in the ad is idiotic: So, ladies, don’t worry your pretty little heads. You don’t look nice when you think so hard. Plus, Hillary needs your vote.
The ad launches with pseudo-inspiring talk of revolution, intimating that Hillary’s election would be that revolution. That’s nice. But do they realize the world is not actually out to get them? As Christina Hoff Sommers so eloquently explains in The Factual Feminist, “Men have to be the only oppressor class in history who are less educated, more victimized, and have shorter lives than those they oppress. They must be the only oppressor class who have claimed society’s gritty, dangerous jobs as their exclusive preserve.” Way to go, men. You’re failing at misogyny. We knew you couldn’t get anything right.
The women go on to explain how women were 53 percent of the voters in the last election, but make up 19.4 percent of Congress. What the bleep, they say, one after the other. What the bleep. What the bleep. What the bleep. “It’s unacceptable to be over half the population, to be the single biggest voting bloc in this country, and to be this underrepresented in the leadership of our country,” the women say, using logic you shouldn’t think too carefully about. Let’s take a look.
The Woman’s ‘Voting Bloc’ Doesn’t Exist
A voting bloc, campaign managers might be interested to learn, is a group of people with common interests. This is different from a demographic, which is a group of people with a common characteristic. “Brunettes,” for example, is a demographic, not a voting bloc. You don’t win a lot of elections trying to get the brunette vote, because hair color is irrelevant to voting habits.
“A voting bloc is a group of voters that are strongly motivated by a specific common concern or group of concerns to the point that such specific concerns tend to dominate their voting patterns, causing them to vote together in elections.” (Thanks for that one, Wikipedia.)
According to Pew Research’s 2014 statistics, 52 percent of women at least “lean Democrat” and 36 percent at least “lean Republican.” If I were to guess, a little more than half are likely to vote Democrat in a typical election, and a little more than a third are likely to vote Republican. This would mean you can’t count on them to “vote together in an election.” (Wow, all this thinking is really taxing on my delicate brain. Someone please bring me a fainting couch.)
This isn’t limited to party leanings; we can make the same argument with individual topics. Provocateur Lena Dunham says the revolution “looks like a woman’s right to choose being protected and strengthened.” (Her euphemistic avoidance of the word “abortion” should tell us something, but that’s a topic for another day.) According to Pew, 41 percent of women think abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. Do those women have the right to choose a society that promotes life?
Now, it’s possible that by “women,” they mean “women who agree with liberal, feminist causes.” But if that’s the case, let’s not pretend 53 percent of voters in the last election fall into that bloc.
Women Are Already Well Represented
Let’s consider high school, since that’s the average maturity level of those involved in this election. If I’m in high school and some jerk stole my $200 graphing calculator, who should I trust to confront the jerk and get it back: my boyfriend or my boyfriend’s jealous ex-girlfriend?
Government and high school aren’t the same thing, obviously, but here’s the point: a woman is not always the best representative for another woman. She may be. She may not be. More important than her sex are her actual qualifications for the job. Does she stand for things I stand for? Can I expect her to fight for those things? Does she have the skills and passion to succeed? If she does, I’ll vote for her. If she doesn’t, I won’t.
See, we have this thing in America called democracy, where the candidate with the most votes gets the office. I, like most (I hope) American voters, vote for the person who I think will best represent me. The man or woman elected is considered by the majority of voters to be their best representation, given the options. Therefore—and I apologize if this is too much math for the ladies—the elected officials are a fair representation of voters’ preferences.
Let’s go back to high school. Maybe the jerk who stole my calculator has a fiercely kindhearted older sister who thinks he needs to quit stealing things, and maybe she knows where he hides his loot. She might be my best shot at getting my calculator back.
Stop Gender Stereotyping Me
The way I was raised, you don’t make assumptions about people based on one characteristic. For example, it’s wrong to say, “He’s black, therefore he’s probably a criminal.” It’s wrong to say, “She talks with an accent and struggles with English, therefore she’s probably stupid.” It’s wrong to say, “She’s a woman, therefore she’s probably terrible at math.” You don’t just assume these things because they’re not necessarily true. There’s a lot more to a person than one characteristic.
The women (and man!) in the ad are all about a woman “leading by listening, communicating, collaborating, consensus building, and with love. ‘Cause that’s how we women do it. That’s how we lead.”
I’m not convinced those characteristics actually apply to Hillary at all, but for argument let’s say they do. They sound so—what’s the word?—feminine. Like stereotypically feminine. Like all those things we are supposed to be against, because women can be just as tough as men, on the football field or in combat. Those characteristics describe the friends you have tea with and hug when life is hard. They’re quintessentially womanly and—seriously, feminists, what the bleep?
Also, what about women who don’t lead that way? I had a female boss once who was terrible at all those things, but very effective at her job. If I were to describe the women I most admire, I’d start with words like strong, confident, and honest. I admire women who sacrifice, who act with integrity and tell the truth even when it could cost them friendships or their jobs.
Listening, communicating, and collaborating are all great skills for leaders to have, but they’re not exclusively womanly skills. There are as many leadership styles as there are people, and to group all women together this way is stereotyping.
Hillary Clinton and I are both women. We have that in common. But I disagree with her politics, and I don’t trust someone so careless and dishonest with national security to be commander-in-chief. This has absolutely nothing to do with her being a woman, or with me being a woman. It has everything to do with thinking through political issues in an intelligent, intellectual sort of way.
We don’t have to think about political issues in an intelligent, intellectual sort of way. We can just vote for Hillary because we’re too dumb to think for ourselves, and only men are actually capable of thinking about actual political issues with brains. But do we really want to go there? Remember, these are the people who fail at misogyny.