Today in class while researching our topic, it was brought up that Hillary Clinton has been perceived to be playing the “Woman Card” by the media. While I don’t necessarily like that terminology because I think that it is dismissive (and ignores how her experience as a woman in politics has shaped her career and public image), I do think they have a point. I looked at Hillary’s twitter to see what kinds of things she is saying. Her Twitter bio reads the following:
Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate. Tweets from Hillary signed –H
The first three descriptors that she uses for herself are “wife”, “mom” and “grandma”. While those identities may be important to her, it seems a little contrived. The fact that Hillary bears children is not weighing in on my decision on whether or not to vote for her for President. I’m much more interested in her policy. She seems to be using her womanhood as a reason why other wives, mothers and grandmothers should vote for her. The emphasis on her role as a mother and grandmother also seems to carry a subtext that says that womanhood is achieved through motherhood, which for women who choose not to have children, is not true. Plenty of women achieve womanhood through other means, such as their professional identities for example. Her next line is “women+kids advocate”, which is debatable, but again appeals to women. The next line is “FLOTUS” or First Lady of the United States, once again to remind us that she is in fact a married woman. Her emphasis on her gender is clearly central to her campaign. It also does not make her the most legitimate and proficient advocate for women. I would argue that Bernie Sanders has an equally feminist stance on womens’ issues but without the spotty past of having supported initiatives that have negatively impacted foreign women, LBGT and Queer women and women of color. I’ve seen tons of other articles and opinion pieces written by women who are unnerved by the fact that they are being told that if they don’t support Hillary, they are not feminists. Read the article in the link below about why female feminists (repetitive but hey, we forget that men can be feminists too) are choosing not to vote for Hillary.
I pose this question: Do you think that Hillary plays the “Woman Card”? Is the phrase “Woman Card” potentially damaging for feminism? Even if there is some legitimacy to the phrase’s analysis of Hillary’s campaign, are there more sensitive ways to frame it?