Is there really such a shortage of upstanding, powerful, white women that your top pick for White Feminist Crusader has to be none other than Clinton, who advocated legally expanding an adapted version of slavery on the basis of abhorrently racist propaganda?
By Christina Yoseph
Following the indictments served on the Trump administration, Hillary Clinton’s celebrity standing among white feminists has been robustly reinvigorated—particularly after Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (oh-so ironically) pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
Holding corrupt members of our rotten administration accountable is crucial to the functionality of our government both now and beyond Trump’s presidency. That being said, it isn’t necessary to derail legitimate critiques of Clinton’s political career with unrelated commentaries on the atrociousness of Trump and his administration.
It’s no secret that Clinton advocated for an anti-Black “war on crime” in the 1990s, mobilizing the support of her husband’s constituents with aggressively racist language. Critiquing Clinton does not require a critique of Trump. As trans activist Raquel Willis put it, there is little point in “expecting anything different from the Trump administration” when it has long been abundantly clear that its members are not interested in advancing the rights and voices of marginalized folks.
We are left to choose between a Democratic candidate and a Republican one each presidential election, and since it’s obvious that one is far less likely to incorporate our interests into policy than the other, it doesn’t make sense to stifle our critiques of the other, particularly when their job is to represent those interests.
We are slapped in the face with frequent reminders that white feminists just don’t get it. Case in point: they continue to hail Clinton as a feminist icon nearly a year after the election. If you peruse Twitter, you will find white feminists celebrating Clinton’s (and white womankind’s) vindication by way of Flynn’s indictment.
This is not a live-action Disney movie about a playground showdown between the “boys” and the “girls.” But based on white feminists’ characterization of the indictments as a victory for Clinton, you’d think it was, rather than, oh, I don’t know—a necessary process because the activities Trump’s advisers were engaged in were illegal. I guess if the administration’s policies are not life or death for you the way they are for many, childish competitions along gender (binary) lines are what pass for “politics” in your world.
However, the politics of this feminism are not for everybody, since last I checked, our country was still helmed by an administration who rose to power based on promises of obliterating the rights of already-marginalized folks like Black and brown immigrants and trans folks in general.
My lot in life is most certainly not to celebrate the vindication of a rich white woman whose crusade against sexism is only skin-deep. If yours is, I encourage you to reevaluate your feminism, because its face is white supremacist-approved.
I also have to ask: how the hell does vindicating Hillary Clinton resolve any of the issues plaguing minority communities? In distilling their concept of the fight for progress down to a competition divided solely along the gender binary (intersectionality, huh?), white feminists keep their movement ineffectual and regressive.
Clinton shouldn’t be the sole receptacle for the righteous anger of intersectional feminists. However, I’d like to remind white feminists that she is not, and was never going to be, the beacon of change for the U.S. She is a politician. In criticizing Trump for his response to national crises like the Las Vegas massacre and Hurricane Maria, Clinton echoed the displeasure of even those who voted for him, effectively capitalizing on the widespread dissatisfaction with his leadership in order to highlight that the country had indeed made a grave mistake in 2016’s election.
However, in working with then-president Bill Clinton to forge the “war on crime,” Clinton referred to Black folks as “super predators” who need to be “brought to heel.” What is more feministic than a politician who used her platform to invoke the same anti-Black stereotypes that have been used to unabashedly justify good old-fashioned American practices like slavery and eugenics (the latter of which the Nazi Party borrowed from the U.S.)?
Hillary Clinton has demonstrated time and time again her failure to understand that this country is not a monolith of equal opportunity. By mocking progressive voters for “wanting free stuff” and brushing off their calls for radical economic reform as a sign of their “newness to politics” during her 2016 campaign, Clinton proved that she did not have a vested interest in improving the living conditions of the U.S.’s most marginalized groups.
Beyond that, she revealed the degree to which she does not understand the inherent relationship between racism and classism and the calls for economic and education reform. As such, she has not taken the steps necessary to uplift the very communities she criminalized in the 1990s.
I voted for Clinton in 2016. I struggled with my choice: I did not want to vote for her, I did not want Trump to win, and I didn’t want to not vote. My feelings about her are such that I have to ask white feminists: is there really such a shortage of upstanding, powerful, white women that your top pick for White Feminist Crusader has to be none other than one who advocated legally expanding an adapted version of slavery on the basis of abhorrently racist propaganda?
The election is over. Move on.
Or, at the very least, educate yourselves on American history: the one riddled with anti-Blackness, queerphobia, and xenophobia. The violent, oppressive systems that have been historically wielded against minority groups have not been eradicated, but have merely mutated. This is your history. Own it. Just as people who are brown, Black, queer, trans, and living with disabilities reflect on their predecessors’ struggles with (and triumphs over) institutional barriers at the hands of hegemony, so should you examine your roles as participants in and potential perpetrators of it.
Hold your candidates accountable. Do not leave those on the outermost margins of society to fight for equality on their own, only supporting candidates whose policies benefit you. Educate yourselves on the struggles of others, support all of your sisters, and, finally, start practicing feminism.
Author Bio: Christina Yoseph is an emerging writer who rejects cis-normative feminist politics. She and her illustrator-musician girlfriend share a nest in the Bay Area.