I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton – but I’m still a feminist

Pick any social media platform and you will see talk about the coming election whether it be a news article, a tweet or a meme.

With the diverse array of candidates, above all else I see the buzzing excitement of the potential to have a woman become president of the United States. However, I am not a part of that buzz.

I am a woman. I am a feminist. And I am not voting for Hillary Clinton.

I have received a great deal of backlash for not supporting my gender by not voting for Clinton, even being called a traitor, or not a “real feminist.”

However, feminism is much deeper than voting choices. Terri Eagen-Torkko, a past researcher at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan cautions from tying feminism to only voting for women.

“How we define ‘feminist’ is an open question. I do see pressure on women to vote for her [Clinton] because she’d be the first woman in the office. In my opinion, representatives who look and sound like us [seem] more likely to vote in our interests,” Eagen-Torkko said.

It is not that we are not ready for a female president. While still working toward diversifying politics, candidates should not be chosen solely by identity, but who you, as a responsible voter, think is best for our country.

Adina Nack, who holds a doctorate in sociology, said that a person can be a feminist whether or not they vote for Clinton. “A feminist is an individual – who can be any sex, any gender, any sexual orientation – who believes that sexism, homophobia, and misogyny are morally and ethically wrong, harmful for individuals and dangerous for society. Feminist voters should vote for the candidate who most strongly and consistently acts in ways that demonstrate their commitment to eliminating policies that maintain stereotypes and/or protect actions that discriminate on the basis of sex, gender and/or sexual orientation.”

For many young college students, this is their first time voting in a presidential election. There are pressures on young people on who they should vote for, both by our generation and older generations, as well as throughout social media.

With a new generation coming to the age of being able to vote, there is a need to encourage them to be engaged in politics.

Eaten-Torkko sees a push to get young people to the polls. “There’s a valid concern that if their primary candidate isn’t the nominee, they won’t vote.” Growing up, Eagen-Torkko was surrounded by influences to vote. “I think it starts when kids are very young. I remember campaigning for Snoopy for President when I was in kindergarten or younger. Some snack cake or bread company put campaign stickers in their packaging. I loved it. My parents also took me to the polls with them-in Washington, we can’t do that because all voting is by mail. While I see the cost savings, I think it impacts civic engagement.”

In the 2008 presidential election, there was not as much overt vocalization of wanting a black president. For the most part, however; people “were excited about the first black president, but it wasn’t really their prime motivation for voting for him”. We don’t tend to hear about people voting for Ted Cruz because of his Latino background or voting for Bernie Sanders because he is Jewish. So why vote for someone because of her gender, instead of her political stance? The “Gender transcends politics more easily than race or religion,” The Washington Post said. Feminism has been in the forefront in more recent years. Clinton’s campaign has embraced the idea of voting for a woman into the White House. In stark contrast, Obama shied away from focusing on being the first black president, but still won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008, according to Time Magazine. And yet, it is important to highlight that he did not win solely due to his race.

Time Magazine states “if we like a candidate because we like him personally, i.e., feel a kinship with him because of a feeling of shared culture, and because we like his policies, well, that seems awfully like the calculus many voters use in their decision of who to support”. However, this personal tie can cloud judgment of the voter.

Politicians’ agendas and passions mean more than their race or gender. The focus needs to shift from the acquisition of a list of milestones, to the gradual build of a diverse government. We need to put more of an emphasis on the values of the candidates, as opposed to their gender or race.

If you are having trouble deciding whom to vote for, websites are available to compare interests of different politicians. Educate yourself and others, and if you want change, go make that change.

Sofi St. John
Guest Writer
Published April 27th, 2016