Hillary Clinton is gradually easing into her nomination as the (2016) Democratic party candidate for the President of the United States of America. All indications show her beating the 75-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders by a narrow margin on points. The biggest question is whether Clinton can survive feminism, stereotypes and honesty issues to succeed Barack Obama and perpetuate the Democratic Party’s 8-year year hold on power?
Clinton represents mainstream feminism which resonates with middle class white women. These primary elections show a large number of younger women ditching Clinton for Sanders. Women of low-income, women of color and those from immigrant backgrounds do not believe that she understands their conditions. Mainstream feminism tends to treat all women as a homogeneous group without taking into consideration the difference in race, ethnicity, ideology, party and background. It has however, managed to bridge the gap between genders in areas such as the workplace, marriage and divorce.
It is the lack of empathy shown by middle class white women like Clinton to the struggles of other groups of women which sets them apart. She does not understand that women of color need to try harder to reach her own class before they can even talk about equality with men. Muslim immigrant women suffer from their own internal domestic battles for equality and the external ones too. It is this niche which Clinton has left vacant partly due to naivety and sheer disregard of other people’s feelings. A female President is not a novelty to these women because they have already seen it happening in other countries like Brazil, South Korea, Liberia, Bangladesh to name but a few. These women need a someone who understands struggles of race, male chauvinism, cultural barriers and community perceptions. Clinton should try to put herself in their shoes to understand their fears and aspirations. Unfortunately Clinton has never lived their lives for her to know how it feels and she seems to have refused even to imagine.
Despite all the hype in the transparency and openness of US politics, it has failed to change the stereotypes against women in politics and especially for the highest position in the country. Clinton is the most qualified of the three candidates still in the race. Both Sanders and Trump lack experience at the highest levels of government but because they are men their suitability for the office of President is not in question. As a woman, Clinton still faces questions from a stereotyped electorate who believes that a woman needs to go an extra mile to be president. Can Clinton survive feminism, stereotypes and honesty issues to become president of the United States?
Both Clinton and Trump have been dodged by honesty issues. Clinton’s e-mail secrecy scandal and marital issues still haunt her. Trump has been making a lot of false statements, the public has just lost count of them. However, again, just because Clinton is a woman, the public expect her to be more honest than Trump. It is just a general expectation among people for women to be more honest than men.
In most countries, and in the United States to be particular, women outnumber and outvote men. 96 percent of black women voted for Obama in the last two elections. Are they going to vote Clinton this time around? It’s hard to imagine that they will vote for Trump but in a world where the unthinkable happens, it is better to keep all the tabs open. Hillary Clinton may not be the best choice, but against Trump she is the best horse to gamble on. My question still remains can Clinton survive feminism, stereotypes and honesty issues to defeat Trump and save America from being “Great Again”
Opinion by Tinyiko Chauke
The Toronto Star: Hillary Clinton and the fault lines in feminism
The Washington Post: Does Hillary Clinton face a different standard for honesty?
INDEPENDENT: After 25 years Americans are bored with Hillary Clinton- and it could stop her becoming the first female president
Image Courtesy Michael Kovac’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License