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Feminists Misunderstood the Presidential Election from Day One


Feminists Misunderstood the Presidential Election from Day One

Liza Featherstone

It turns out many women don’t care about Trump’s sexism – nor that Clinton is a woman. A majority of white women voted for Trump. And while Clinton did carry the female vote overall, her advantage among women was a percentage point less than Obama had enjoyed over Romney in 2012. This has left many American feminists reeling. Just how did this happen, they ask?


Timely and necessary piece. One of the understated forces behind Trump's election was broad dissatisfaction with western feminism and political correctness, which many now identify with an oppressive neoliberal agenda and narcissistic public elites. Much of Trump's campaign was a broadside against these dominant narratives that make little sense in light of the facts of experience known to true liberals, conservatives, and legions of others who witness the negative impacts on male family and friends. Others recognize the ways PC culture greatly infringes upon freedom of speech, too often in a way that benefits oppresses forces in the world or negatively impacts their reasonable interests in a way that silences them and prevents them from mounting a public defense without appearing to be in violation of publicly-accepted norms. Many Trump supporters are no longer willing to tolerate asymmetries in gender rights that have evolved in the name of feminism since the 70's. Men feel they are assumed to be violent and sexually aggressive and that women possess a unilateral nuclear option that can be used against men at a woman's discretion, where no symmetrical option exists for 99% of men. Likewise, family courts in the west have degenerated into courts of female privilege where radical feminist values and assumptions about men are permitted to run roughshod over common sense and fairness in a way that almost exclusively benefits women. Feminism must re-commit itself to equality and fairness in order to regain its appeal to the majority of men and women.


I thought only Republicans were stupid enough to believe in identity voting. Guess not.


Many US voters are familiar with Margaret Thatcher and other female leaders out to prove that they eat more nails for breakfast than their male counterparts. Enough US voters drilled deep enough to realize that electing the wrong female is just as devastating as electing the wrong male.


It was not only feminists who misunderstood the election, nor Democrats, nor Republicans.

It strikes me as reasonable to assume that many women did not vote for Clinton not because they do not care about Trump's sexism nor because they approve of it, but because they disapprove of Clinton.

This might be less puzzling if we remember that the views to which these women might object are unlikely to be liberal views, but views that Clinton actually has. While some women surely did vote against reproductive rights for women, such women are apt to be regular Republican voters that the Clinton camp could not have reasonably counted on. The other women voters who did not vote for Clinton very likely did not do so because of her hawkishness, opacity, blatant corruption, neoliberalism, neoconservativism, or something of the sort.

A bit similarly, Black women did vote for Clinton more than did black men--by 94% as opposed to 80%, apparently. But that still leaves it likely that most of those votes had more to do with race than with gender.

Surely little dust has cleared from an odd scuffle, and a lot is left to learn, but it seems to me that a large swath of the responses that I have read over the last week unite in denying or ignoring the obvious:

  • Democrats continues to lose labor votes by being anti-worker
  • Not everyone finds human rights coterminous with polite language
  • People concerned with human rights can vote against democrats
  • Cookie-cutter demographics has a lot of predictive slop

In general, humans identify multiply in terms of demographics. Women are workers and mothers and siblings and teachers and of one race and religion or ethnicity or another as well as being women. People also care about other demographics as well as our own, despite all that Friedmanite and Econ 101 rot about "self-interested, rational players."

Clinton lost because a very large percentage of people loathe the way the country is run. A larger percentage of those who do are left or liberal or Democratic or Green or socialist or anarchist than the percentage that are Republican or Libertarian or Neo-Nazi because the way that the country is run resembles the ideas of the latter groups more than those of the former. But even the Republicans pushed forward a candidate that they thought of as a reformer, however bizarrely. The Democrats failed to do so because the Party officials with collusion from media and a sitting president rigged the nomination.

If you push forward an unpopular candidate at odds with the interests of pretty much the entire electorate, you can have trouble even when you help choose the opposition, as the Clinton camp did here by diverting campaign funds from Democratic candidates to the Trump nomination. If the Democrats wish to regain the credibility that they have lost over the last quarter century as a party of reform, a lot of the well placed heads that bowed to Obama and to the Clintons are going to have to roll--not just a few DNC officials, but the well placed elected officials who have not objected to the collusion. And there needs to be a process by which voters actually elect rather than officials appoint a nominee.




On the other hand, I'm with the 62,000,000.


This feminist misunderstood nothing, but she is profoundly disinterested in being told what she thought. I'm much more interested in figuring out where we go from here.


All this must be informed by the fact that almost half the eligible voters stayed home on election day.


Your piece illustrates another rather large problem, one with the expert pundits. Maye you should stick with issues and stop putting "People" in boxes: Feminists, Progressives, Liberals, Conservatives. Most folk don't like being reduced to a single word or phrase. 50% of eligible voters stayed home. Which box are they in, Liz?


I don't care how many times I have to say it: THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN. TWICE!! First by the DNC and the Hillbots, then by the Repubs.

Greg Palast. Greg Palast. Greg Palast.


All the weeping, wailing, and -uh - analysis is beside the point and meaningless. The election was stolen!


Why on earth should the gender of a person matter - when the competition is about merit, competence, honesty, and integrity - to a mature electorate? Do we even need to spend any ink on this issue? This is such a senseless topic.

The fact that HRC used that argument, speaks volumes about her low standards and her lack of integrity and her idiotic frame of the world. Women have long established leaderships in literature, science, culture, and so many other fields, that are much more important and hard to achieve than that of a temporary country administrator. For some reason in the world of HRC, being the president i.e. the temporary administrator of a country is more important than anything. It's much easier in my view to win billion dollar elections...than being, let's say Marie Curie...or Jane Goodall etc.


I wouldn't go that far. These women are exceptions. We are underrepresented in every respected field and in every legislature from the federal to (I would bet) every county in the land. Until it becomes unremarkable that a leader or achiever is a woman, the gender of a person matters. Some of the mature electorate recognizes that it is not enough to be a woman, but that doesn't mean that HRC's gender didn't figure at all in our thinking.


Well-written, well-thought out analysis. This speaks to one of the two fatal flaws in current Democratic Party politics. The belief that identity politics can be a sensible primary focus of a major political party. If we focus enough on gender, and race, and ethnicity, and any other human subdivision which has enough votes, we can keep winning elections. The Democratic Party has used this emphasis on identity politics both to motivate voters and to conceal its real agenda. Today's Democratic Party is a neoliberal neocon party. This is the other fatal flaw of a Democratic Party run by Clinton Democrats. Voters unfamiliar with terms like neoliberal and neocon do know the impacts of those ideologies. Wall Street run amok...the hollowing out of American manufacturing...endless wars and limitless military budgets...a surveillance state which spies on all of its citizens...a nation which can't seem to afford to rebuild its infrastructure or provide all of its children a quality education. The Democratic Party's strategy has been to rile up people based on identity issues instead of trying to bring people together around more universal concerns. All the while, fat cats on Wall Street and war hawks with dreams of a global empire wind up running a political party which pretends to care about people and likes to bandy about the word "progressive."
There is nothing progressive about the Democratic Party. Even in the aftermath of a catastrophically run campaign, the neoliberal neocons are making sure they remain in complete control of the Democratic Party. They are shoving progressives out of the way, or giving them made-up titles as a sop, while continuing to inflame the passions of identity politics. Democrats susceptible to being inflamed are taking to the streets, or hyperventilating online, still seemingly oblivious to vital issues which don't play to identity politics. Progressives who were animated by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, and want to take the party in a more progressive direction, are already seeing those hopes dashed by a party establishment which seems to have learned NOTHING from this campaign. They are still fixed on their neoliberal neocon agenda. And they still work to conceal that agenda. Meanwhile, they encourage in aggrieved populations in the Democratic tent a belief that many millions of white voters are racist, xenophobic, etc., stirring heartfelt resentments while ignoring this fact: the white, working-class voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin who voted for Trump, tilting the election to him, also voted for Obama. Twice.


Feminists just don't grok it, so let me mansplain it to you.

No woman who obtained power ever did so by proclaiming "I am Woman - watch me roar." They may indeed have been and often were feminists, but always women who came to power did so for reasons other than feminism. Suu Kyi, Indira Gandhi, Thatcher, Aquino and the whole long list of other women who rose to power got there for reasons rather other than feminism.

Suppose back in 2008 that Obama had run his campaign, saying "Wow! I'm black! I'm making history! Vote for me!" - I think we all know what would have become of his campaign. Obama ran on reasons far other than his being black and that is how he became president. Hillary's presidential attempt as a feminist this time around was inexcusable because experience had shown in the case of Geraldine Ferraro that making a big deal out of how "historic" her feminist run was served to help doom the campaign - and nothing has changed since then. The electorate couldn't give a Trump's hand about Hillary being historic or the three million pantsuits that were sold in the waning days of the campaign; they wanted to know how Hillary could help them.

Thus endeth the lesson.


Nope .... but we must be informed

What was misunderstood? Americans are angry, they're angry about wages, they're angry about jobs, they're angry about expenses, they're angry about others, they're angry about a wide variety of day-to-day issues.

Trump fed all of their fears ... at last someone hears me ... but Trump only heard the applause and he repeated the biggest applause lines at every event. It was a terrible show, no plot, no story line, lousy dialog, and no character development. Trump said what they wanted to hear, regardless of any truth.

Clinton believed her major appeal was her gender.
I disagree with that statement completely. I think Clinton's major appeal was experience.

Feminists were not to blame, there is no gender identity any more than there is a block identity for other demographics.

Many are now rightly attempting to galvanize women against Trump’s awful sexist persona – and worse, his anti-choice agenda, planning A Million Woman March in Washington DC the day after the inauguration.

We should all plan to attend, and then actually go.