Maybe it was the woman who called me on election day, back when my phone never stopped ringing.
“I want to urge you to vote for Hillary Clinton,” she said.
“Sorry,” I said. “But I’ve already voted for Obama.”
A long pause. “I’m so sorry,” the woman said. Her voice vibrated with tragedy, like I’d told her I’d just grown a new tumor. Then she hung up.
Or maybe it was a friend in my yoga class, who shook her head at my decision. “I guess electing a woman president isn’t as important to you as it is to me,” she said.
“Give me a break,” I told her. “I don’t vote for a candidate only on the basis of her biological equipment.”
“Don’t you want a woman as president?”
Well, hell, yes. Of course, I do. You’d better believe it. And I’ll certainly vote for Clinton if she gets the nomination. And for many other competent women in the future.
But it won’t be because of this suffocating pressure I’m getting simply because I’m a woman of a certain age who is presumed to be guilty of betraying her sex and her feminist principles simply because she believes in and prefers the other candidate.
If I eventually vote for Clinton, it will be in spite of them. The way they’re laying on the guilt, with a fat dollop of martyrdom (“But Hillary’s worked so hard!”), is both insufferable and ineffective. It’s like they’re trying to channel my mother at her worst moments.
In fact, Hillary herself managed to impersonate too many stereotypical mothers at their absolutely worst moments when she objected to being questioned first in the Ohio debates. Oh, I don’t mind! Sure, go ahead and treat me like dirt! But have you noticed … ? All the time smiling her best don’t-mind-me, you-sharper-then-a-serpent’s-tooth-spawn-of-the-sexist,-media-devil-brigades grin within a grimace. Hey, maybe she made her point (look at her subsequent victories). But I thought she demeaned herself with this whole passive-aggressive tread-on-me routine.
It isn’t only going on with women during this landmark nomination race, though. Another friend of mine, who’s black and voted for Clinton, has undergone similar pressure to vote for Obama. Doesn’t she, like, care about her race?
All this earsplitting pressure smacks a little too much of the absolute certainty of the freshly converted and born again. Look at them and they’re all saying that life is simple and they, alone, have the key to truth. Listening to their deep sighs and heartfelt admonitions, I want to ask how they think they know me so well (based only on my age and gender) that they know exactly why I voted as I did and why I’m — so obviously and tragically — wrong.
I’m inclined to think that most of us make up our minds whom to vote for on a variety of levels, conscious and unconscious, deep and superficial and somewhere in-between. It makes sense to me to give other people the benefit of the doubt, not to automatically assume they’re self-loathing, racist, sexist or just plain wrong since they didn’t vote as I did.
I also appreciate some voters’ humility in admitting they don’t know whether their choices were correct. Maybe, after all, Hillary would be the stronger candidate. Maybe Obama could better unite the country. Maybe McCain — well, let’s not get carried away.
Anyway, I don’t have much patience with people who never doubt their own decisions or wonder whether, perhaps, they were wrong. If you want a great example of someone like that, check out the current occupant of the White House.
In the meantime, ditch the moral superiority and nagging if you want to do your candidate some good. We’re all grownups here. Or at least we’re trying to be.
great post. i’m a white 23 year old male and i’m still sick of this babble. what’s worse: sexism or racism? let’s get this identity politics over with already!
I voted for Obama, my folks for Clinton. Fortunately, people around my age (the 18-35 set, according to the caucus sheet), seem less concerned about gender and race, other than that they’re elated to be choosing between two people who aren’t white men.
In fact, my folks feel that way too. I think they voted for Hillary not because she’s a woman but because she’s a bit more conservative than Barack, and as they get older, their values have shifted ever so slightly toward the right. They’re still big ol’ lefties, don’t get me wrong, but now they worry about MY financial future. They care less about revolution and more about stability. They want me to live happily and be able to retire before my old bones turn to dust. They like Barack’s message, but think rapid change will fail. They think Hillary will bring change in at a more reasonable rate.
My folks were among the world changers of the 50s and 60s. As their offspring, it’s my turn to take on the more radical causes. But I love that we have different takes on this election. It means we keep learning from each other. And my folks will be among the first in line to support Obama if he gets that nomination, because even though they’re older in years, they both still have young hearts.
Maybe the next time someone calls you a gender traitor or whatever, you can just tell them they SOUND old.