I have been told by otherwise intelligent, alert, accomplished women that I must vote for Hillary Clinton. Some have said it’s because failing to cast my vote for Bill’s charming better half will be a de facto plus one for team Trump. While I doubt that is the case, it’s a fairly respectable argument.
But there are also the sisters who tell me I must vote for Clinton because she is a woman, and I am a woman, and “it is time.” They often say this with a strange gleam in their eyes, which makes me feel as if I am about to be sucked up into the skies as a part of some feminist rapture. They are the true believers, zealots who look upon Clinton as the prophet foretold in the Old Testament, otherwise known as Ms. Magazine.
Three and a half decades ago, when I graduated from Bryn Mawr College, Ronald Reagan was in office. This suited me just fine, but of course you can imagine that at a place where female students sucked feminist milk from the teat of Athena, there was that bright hope that one day a woman would kick that cranky old actor’s butt out of D.C. Still waiting.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the revolution. Some women started realizing that they didn’t need symbolism to achieve fulfillment. Yes, it was lovely when Sandra Day O’Connor made her way onto the Supreme Court, but she didn’t help me pass the bar any faster. Yes, it was magnificent to watch Sally Ride ascend to the stars, but it didn’t have the same transcendental impact as that “one step for man.” Yes, Madeline Albright became secretary of state and before that ambassador to the U.N. But she botched the job six ways from Sunday, so that wasn’t exactly one for the win column.
So, yes, we had our symbolic moments, but it didn’t really do anything other than give us a few more pictures to put on that Women’s History Month calendar. While these tokens were being celebrated, other women were going out, getting jobs, running companies, marrying, refusing to marry, having children, refusing to have children, winning Oscars, commanding multimillion dollar salaries, slipping into poverty, dying of AIDS, dying of breast cancer, winning Nobel Peace prizes and bringing home the bacon.
In other words, the photo ops with the “firsts” did very little to change the condition of the American woman, which has improved dramatically since our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were given the right to vote.
But there are women out there who just don’t get it, and many belong to anachronistic groups like Emily’s List and the National Organization for Women. Not that these institutions support all women. If you oppose abortion rights, you might as well have a penis as far as they are concerned.
A certain type of lady finds comfort in these organizations, which, far from promoting women’s empowerment through education and equality of opportunity, teach them to complain about the patriarchy. That ploy has lost a good bit of its effectiveness because so few intelligent women are victims of that patriarchy any longer.
Which brings me back to Hillary. Most of the women who are so anxious to see her in office are my age or older. They think this is our last real chance to see ovaries in the Oval Office. Younger women don’t really care. They grew up in an era when pretty much anything was possible. They care about substance, not symbols. They may in fact vote for Hillary, who knows.
But Year of the Woman? That’s so 1973.