Hillary Clinton first woman to secure US Democratic nomination, delivers speech replete with feminist victory

It’s finally over. No more speculation, no more Bernie vs. Hillary.

After winning the California Primary election, Hillary Clinton has clinched the democratic nomination for the US Presidential election, making her the first woman to do so.

Clinton delivered a powerful victory speech last night filled with celebratory references to women’s rights: “[I]t may be hard to see tonight, but we are all standing under a glass ceiling right now. But don’t worry, we’re not smashing this one.”

Clinton positioned her victory within the context of generations of women fighting for feminist advancement:

“In our country, it started right here in New York, a place called Seneca Falls, in 1848. When a small but determined group of women, and men, came together with the idea that women deserved equal rights, and they set it forth in something called the Declaration of Sentiments.”

She then attempted to reconcile Sanders supporters, congratulating the senator for his “extraordinary campaign,” and reiterating the need for Democratic unity against Donald Trump:

“When Donald Trump says a distinguished judge born in Indiana can’t do his job because of his Mexican heritage — or he mocks a reporter with disabilities — or calls women ‘pigs’ — it goes against everything we stand for.”

Clinton closed her speech by paying tribute to her mother: “My mother believed that life is about serving others. And she taught me never to back down from a bully, which, it turns out, was pretty good advice,” to wild applause.

“On the very day my mother was born in Chicago, Congress was passing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment finally gave women the right to vote… So yes, yes, there are still ceilings to break — for women and men, for all of us. But don’t let anyone tell you that great things can’t happen in America. Barriers can come down.”

Even for many women who are not Clinton supporters, it’s hard not to feel some elation at seeing a woman succeed in such a prominent and culturally significant position of power. Feminist activist MaryLou Singleton shared her thoughts on Facebook:

“Anyone who doesn’t think it’s a big deal to have a female US President needs to examine their sexism… If women around you are happy about this historic moment where we might get to have a female Darth Vader for a change, let them be happy, ok? Please don’t tell them that a woman president really has no historical importance in a country where women don’t even have codified constitutional rights (ERA, anyone?).”

Whether one supports Clinton or not, the historical significance of her now virtually certain nomination cannot be denied. And it is almost too amusing that history might write down her presidential win as being against a candidate whose political platform foundationally consists of racism and misogyny, in the hobgoblin-like embodiment of everything despicable about old-boys-club power, Donald Trump.

Clinton has proven herself to be tough as nails against any sexist attempts to undermine her credibility. But as her fight against Trump truly begins, things are sure to get much more ugly.

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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  • northernTNT

    As for the vote, I am expecting much worse.

  • Melissa Cutler

    I watched Clinton’s speech last night with my 13 year old daughter and found myself getting emotional, even though I experienced the bitterness evoked in answering her question, “Mom, what’s a glass ceiling?” When I think of the changes she’s gotten to see in her lifetime, including the supreme court ruling on gay marriages and the election of an African American president, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that we live in the time that we do. I have so much hope for future generations and I am taking a momentary pause from my outrage at the Stanford rapist to enjoy this historic event.

  • Rocio

    I love what Ms. Singleton said. 8 years ago I thought Obama was too centrist but was thrilled with those around me that a Black man was going to be president of the US. It may not have had a huge impact on policy but I know it was inspiring to poor non-White children in the neighborhood I grew up in. Especially for Black children who were not even allowed to use the same spaces as Whites only 2 generations ago and were constantly sent the message that they were second class citizens.

    For the same reasons even though Rodham-Clinton is a centrist for me, I am thrilled a woman will finally be president of the US. Not just any woman but someone who has identified as a Feminist for decades! As a woman in my late 20s it took me a long time to realize just how recent Feminist gains are. A lot of people don’t realize that when her husband went to college at an Ivy League school in the late 60s , it still only admitted men. Hillary was not allowed to attend that fancy old boys club school when she was 18. She went to a Women’s College instead. She was amongst the first generation of women to be able to go to Yale Law School.

    I will be a critic of her less liberal policies like I was of Obama’s but I look forward to seeing her efforts on fighting for equal pay, repealing a ban on poor women getting abortions covered by Medicaid, defending reproductive rights, and trying to finally get the US to follow the rest of the world in giving paid parental and family leave.

    • Andrew Cole

      “I will be a critic of her less liberal policies like I was of Obama’s
      but I look forward to seeing her efforts on fighting for equal pay,
      repealing a ban on poor women getting abortions covered by Medicaid,
      defending reproductive rights, and trying to finally get the US to
      follow the rest of the world in giving paid parental and family leave.”

      ^ That about sums it up for me too. I wish she wasn’t such a military hawk and so friendly towards capitalism, but at this point it’s better to look at the positives instead of the negatives. I voted for Bernie in the primary but I knew he wasn’t going to make it after he lost Ohio. I didn’t blame him for staying through California but I hope he plays nice at the convention now and brings everyone together with a heavy nudge to get the platform moved left if can, but I don’t want him to go down like a grumpy old man throwing a temper tantrum.

      Hillary will be one of the first female world leaders I actually feel good about. Thatcher was a disaster. Merkel isn’t terribly better and too Christian and right for me, and it’s not like the Monarchy in the U.K actually matters in terms of governing so the Queen doesn’t count. Rousseff seems to have some right-wing views I don’t like either like being pro-life and against gay marriage, and I have no idea if she is guilty in her impeachment proceeding. I don’t follow Brazil that closely. Along with Thatcher and Merkel, Hillary will surely be the most powerful modern female leader. Perhaps the most powerful female leader ever, though that’s debatable.

  • Monica_Ker

    Feminist Current praising a liberal feminist? wow

    • Meghan Murphy

      This piece didn’t read, to me, as “praising a liberal feminist.” It read to me as an acknowledgment that Clinton won the nomination and that many women/feminists see this as a victory in the current context. Many women/feminists do not. I respect both perspectives, personally.

  • anne

    I remember only too well what Clinton(s) have been involved in over the last 20-odd years, and that prevents me from feeling comfortable or celebrating this development. Just because a woman talks like a feminist, doesn’t make her one, and while I recognise the value of simply being represented (the paralell drawn with Obama) I fear she will be yet another token female, only too eager to serve status quo and neoliberal agenda, who will in the long run increase hatred of women in power, either through her ineffectiveness or corruption or both. I hope I am wrong, and nothing would make me happier than to see Hillary advance feminist cause. I guess time will tell.

  • Alienigena

    More and more I am wary of people with a particular ideology, religious belief or philosophical bent. I have never found one that could represent my views fully. I call them the bandwagoneers. They happily jump on the bandwagon of a politician like Justin Trudeau in Canada and attack anyone who does not workship at their favorite’s altar. Because apparently all you need to be a good leader is charisma (though I never seem to find people who are reputed to be charismatic, all that charismatic) and a good physique. Such people seem more than willing to forgive male politicians their flaws.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Indeed. I think Americans sometimes forget that I and many of our readers are Canadian… I know nothing about Jill Stein and heard her name for the first time only with the past month or so. I don’t see Canadians forcing Americans to take positions on Canadian politicians or politics… Perhaps Americans should start expecting Canadians to have the same expertise on their politics as they do on ours.

    • DeColonise

      It’s the same almost all over Europe as well. We are showed it down our throats by corporate/mainstream media on a daily basis. Its nuts. How much are American corporate media writing on any other non-us nations elections I wonder?
      My guess; not much.
      When a nation perceives oneself as “number one” or “the greatest nation on earth” one don’t have to care what others do. These “lesser”, these “others” should just follow and learn from you.

    • M2378

      But Susan, who is responsible for this and other posts covering the US election, lives in the US according to her bio, so I find it incredibly odd that she would not be familiar with Jill Stein, the most progressive female candidate in the Presidential Race. In fact, progressive and third party candidates like Stein are barely covered by the corporatized mainstream media (which is why you and many Americans haven’t heard of her), so I would hope that a radical feminist news site would do everything it could to bring more attention to her.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Fair enough. Up until now, I haven’t really covered American politics much at all — mostly because I don’t know very much about American politicians. I’d prefer, honestly, to focus on Canadian politics over American politics, as we have done up until this point, just because most other well-known feminists sites are American and, therefore, focus on American politics a lot. Again, I think Susan only chose to report on this particular aspect of American politics because as it is pretty big news… All that said, again, your point is fair.

  • Kendall Turtle

    I read that Hillary defended a child rapist when she was 27 years old, I’m just wondering if anyone else here has read about it? She even used typical sexist garbage to discredit the 12 year old victim (claiming she was seeking out older men, that she was emotionally unstable, etcetc)

    Here’s a link outlining the case http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-freed-child-rapist-laughed-about-it/

    And a picture of this affidavit from the case.

    • Tangelo

      Hillary was acting in her capacity as a defense lawyer at the time, so I didn’t fault her for doing her job. To help prevent the State from trampling over defendants, the majority of whom are marginalized, everyone deserves a capable defense, even the worst of the worst. What bothered me most in the case of the 12 year old girl rape victim is Hillary’s willingness to go public and laugh about the legal machinations she used to get her client, who she indicates she had a good idea was guilty, off the charge of raping a 12 year old girl. You can listen to it on youtube if you search “the hillary clinton tapes”.

      However, I had never read the affidavit you posted, where she defended her client in part by calling the 12 year old girl slutty and nutty. A 12 year old. That was the same tactic taken by the Clinton team, to discredit Monica Lewinsky in hopes of saving Bill Clinton’s political future. What did Hillary think of the tactics? We’ll never really know, but we know what she thought of the 22 year old intern, Monica Lewinsky, that her husband sexually harassed at work and then let loose the dogs to shame and bury her. Hillary’s private take on Monica — ““a narcissistic loony tune”.

      A few months ago, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright had this to say in support of Hillary Clinton’s run, ““There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Lol, the hypocrisy. Pardon me if the arguments that we should vote for Hillary, cause “female” or “feminist power” or “role model for girls everywhere” leave me cold.

    • Alienigena

      Mrs. Clinton seems classist. She responded to the 12 year old (of lower SES) in the same way that she responded to many of the women who accused her husband of sexual assault or harassment. Wikipedia lists nine women in total. Like the Ghomeshi case (media personality accused of sexual violence against co-workers, acquaintances and others) in Canada that was defended by a female lawyer there was some question about whether Hillary`s defense was zealous or simply competent. A legal expert reviewing Hillary`s case points out that she only had a duty to provide her client with a competent and diligent defense not a `zealous`one.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkrauss/2014/06/26/hillary-rodham-clinton-and-the-ethics-of-a-rape-defense/#621a1964c9be

      I don`t really feel like defending her … I was disgusted by the behaviour of Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky affair and with the response of a lot of mainstream feminists who seemed to excuse his
      behaviour. Susan Faludi suggested that Lewinsky `put the moves on` Clinton.

      http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/1998/05/williams199805

      I think that partisan people are frequently willfully blind. Anne Roiphe (reputed to be a feminist writer, but I never thought of her in that way) said at the time that “Ìt will be a great pity if the Democratic Party is damaged by this.”

      • Alienigena

        Sorry, it is Katie Roiphe that left a bad taste in my mouth, not her mother.

  • Kendall Turtle

    Oop! Someone else brought up the rape case besides me. Yes that case strongly reminds me of the female lawyers that defended Gnomeshi no one would claim they are for women or their protection.

  • Alienigena

    And the excessive libertarianism of American politics even from the left (or should I say the paranoid, conspiracy theorist left). I find libertarianism repugnant in all its forms (government hands off rants and pro-sex work and pro-porn polemics). It is like libertarians live in an alternate universe where there is no understanding of the public goods that governments provide (roads, universal health care, social safety net (Employment Insurance, etc.), public schools, etc.). Look at the number of charter schools in the USA. I have to say that Alberta is not much better and our charter schools receive public monies. I am glad the NDP (social democratic political party) is examining this and putting forth the idea that charter schools should receive no public funding.

  • lagattamontral

    The answer to that is two words: Margaret Thatcher. PM, not president, but that is not the point. A female candidate who is deeply anti-women and anti ordinary-working-class people is nothing but a patriarchal enabler. Hillary Rodham is a warmonger and a corporate shill

  • Wren

    Have you considered the alternative candidate, the orange antichrist, Trump? I know who I’m voting for.

  • Bleeps

    We focus too much on the presidency in U.S. politics. The Supreme Court barely gets a mention but it has immense power to affect the direction of the country.

    I wish we had proportional representation, so we could fight less and work together more. I also wish our elections lasted about a month from primary to vote, and that other countries didn’t have to watch us spend billions on this circus.

  • Andrew Cole

    I was listening to the NPR politics podcast and they were talking about a conservative woman (can’t remember her name) who said she didn’t think “the woman thing would matter to me as much as it did when I heard she was the presumptive nominee”. I think there is room to both celebrate the milestone and criticize her for her positions. I’m sure Michael Steel was happy to see a black person elected president even though he’s Republican.

    Donald Rumsfeld once said: you go to war with the army you have not the army you want. As it stands now she’s going to be the next president, is better than Trump by miles, and so the best we can do now is to keep the pressure up so she stays on the left side of the railings if she wants to be rel-elected. I’m willing to let things that happened in the past stay in the past if t seemed like she changed, but it doesn’t much sadly.

  • OldPolarBear

    The Associated Press (AP) did so Monday night, before California, New Jersey and several other states even voted on Tuesday. Pretty much everybody has followed suit. The Democratic Party will not have an “official” designation of her as the nominee until the delegates have voted at the convention.

  • Tobysgirl

    Thank you so much, Anne. Clinton is a woman who uses feminism to promote … HERSELF. I don’t see why anyone would be thrilled to have someone with a vulva instead of someone with a penis, who pursues the exact same policies, is the exact same neoliberal militarist, is the exact same purveyor of domination and exploitation. Hillary Clinton supported Goldwater at a time when he was calling for nuclear bombs to be dropped on Vietnam. I’ve also heard she supported Nixon. She and her husband wanted to transform the Democracy Party into Republican Lite, and through the Democratic Leadership Council they got their way. Horrible, horrible people: war, destruction of social safety net (which is absolutely necessary for women to not be dependent upon abusers), totally beholden to the banks, etc.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Despite the fact that Clinton is a neoliberal, I think to say she is on par with Trump is a dangerous exaggeration… Trump encourages bigoted violence against women and minorities and is a greedy egocentric moron. Hillary is not ideal for me — not by a longshot — but she is far better than Trump. (And by “better” I don’t mean “progressive.” I mean “better,” as in “not the worst possible thing that could happen.”)

    • Eamonn Ziegler

      She promotes fossil fuels. She has verbally abused victims of sexual assault, victims of her husband. She chose to defend a child rapist who she knew was guilty. She profits of if the instability in the middle east. Her track record shows that she is a homophobic, sexist, racist awful human being, she is only recently pretending she is anything else to get people’s votes. Trump is a loud mouth, while Hillary is far more sneaky, But they are the same.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Hey, I’m glad I don’t have to vote for her. I’m not going to spend any energy defending her w/r/t your points, either. But what Trump stands for and what he will do if in power is more dangerous. He legit believes women are props, ‘whore’, objects. Like, literally. He legit thinks Mexicans are bad and lazy and stupid.

        • Eamonn Ziegler

          And Hillary seems to think all humans are disposable if it results in her personal gain.

      • Wren

        She was a public defender. That is their job. They do not get to pick their cases. Most of the time they defend the most marginalized people in our society. You really don’t have a right to hold that over Hillary.

        • Tobysgirl

          She was not a public defender. She did not have to take the case. She took it because a friend asked her to defend that POS. I’ll get the link if you want it.
          Hillary Clinton as a public defender, that’s a laugh! She came from a well-to-do family and has about the same level of social conscience as Trump. Both narcissists extraordinaire. And I’m sorry, but I live in these United States and have watched electoral politics for decades. It really does not matter very much, except in very small ways, who is elected president.

        • Tobysgirl

          Here’s the link I mentioned above:

          http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44839.htm

          I haven’t read the comments. A lot of commenters on ICH are pretty idiotic.

      • Meghan Murphy
  • Wren

    This time it really does make a difference. We can choose between the status quo, Hillary, or what could very well be the beginning of the end of the world. My students, mostly immigrants and refugees, are absolutely terrified of an imminent Trumpocalypse, and I’m scared shitless, too. We have refugees from everywhere, and a lot from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and Trump tells all the white people to “lock their doors.” Please don’t discourage anyone from participating in this election. This may be the most important one we have ever had. 

    • Tobysgirl

      The United States is run by the deep state, which is responsible for invading Iraq, fomenting war in Afghanistan (begun during the Carter administration), and fomenting war in Syria (the “rebels” have been financed and weaponized by the U.S.). Trump is the perfect bogeyman to get liberals to vote for just another warmonger, one who thinks it’s funny to drop bombs on Libya (another war fomented by the U.S.) and that their leader, who was very interested in pan-Africanism, was raped with a bayonet before he died. It really doesn’t matter who gets elected because it will all be the same-old, same-old. I actually believe the people who run things wanted Trump to be the Republican nominee in order to get people to vote for Clinton, who many people cannot abide.
      Stop fear-mongering! It doesn’t matter who is elected; presidential elections in particular are meaningless. Only ACTION will change the status quo. And Clinton would not be above starting a nuclear war if you look at her record and the love the neo-conservatives bear for her (Dick Cheney et al).

      • Bleeps

        It is run by the deep state, which is why even if Bernie were elected, he would not be able to single-handedly dismantle the military-industrial complex. He would be assassinated, or there would be some kind of ‘accident’ in a major city, a sudden flare-up necessitating more war. Trump is promising to increase the military budget by, what was it, 200%?

        • Tobysgirl

          That might be an interesting way to mobilize the American public. No money for anything whatsoever except the military.

          • Bleeps

            Mobilize them to what, exactly? Buy more guns? Yeah, probably. Any day now, that’s totally going to start working out.

  • M2378

    Thank you for speaking the truth! Honduran and Haitian women have suffered from Clinton’s destructive policies and actions as well. It is not a feminist act to support Hillary Clinton.

    All women’s lives matter, and how a candidate’s policies will affect people in other countries should be a concern of anyone who is a feminist. It is incredibly myopic to focus on the merely symbolic significance of a woman winning the Democratic nomination, when her policies are not progressive enough and often outright harmful to women.

    Clinton has been caught lying multiple times on camera, she’s under criminal investigation by the FBI, and she only changes her position on issues when it’s politically expedient.

    I have also noticed that it’s primarily white career fauxminists who support her, and it’s not a coincidence.

    Anyways, here’s Green Party candidate Jill Stein disproving the ridiculous claim that Clinton is a feminist or good for women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgJ_3h1COqo

    • Meghan Murphy

      Jill Stein seems cool!

    • Misanthropia

      Not to mention she supports the Israeli stranglehold apartheid and the actions of IDF soldiers in torturing, raping and killing Palestinians. She’s an American Margaret Thatcher. Not worth the votes, not worth the support.

    • Tobysgirl

      Thanks to you both for these comments. I am tired of Americans’ self-obsession. The overwhelming majority (and not just the Trumpists) seem to care not a whit for people, especially women, in other countries. They’ll actually buy into such stupid arguments as we had to invade Afghanistan to protect Afghan women. War NEVER protects women and always results in greater authoritarianism (which in some countries means even greater oppression of women).

  • M2378

    That “old white guy” is actually Jewish, so if he were elected he would be the first Jewish president. Just pointing that out, since a lot of people are hammering on the symbolic/historical weight of nominations/elections (which, in my opinion, aren’t as important as policy). And no, the Democratic Party has not stood up for what progressives believe in, not in a loooong time. In fact, many of the positions taken by establishment Democrats have been Center/Right. That is the problem; the Democratic party doesn’t stand for what we believe in yet expects us to vote for their corrupt candidate just because they’re less horrible than whatever clown the extreme right wing Republicans have to offer.

  • Althea Tyne

    As an American I can say this is not a victory for women, it’s an atrocity. Hillary Clinton seems like a sociopath or at least a pathological liar. The pulse of this upcoming election is very weak. Only a very tiny portion of the population is excited about a Clinton or Trump presidency. Many are predicting the lowest percentage of voters in modern history. I predict Trump will win because very few young people( who tend to be liberals) will vote for Clinton. Many will write in Bernie Sanders as a protest to what many believe was a rigged primary process in many states. I personally will probably write in Sanders as well. You can tell Bernie has a big heart and actually cares about the people. You can really tell Clinton only cares about money and her ego. I watched all of the debates between Hillary and Bernie and he clearly won every single one. It’s evident that Hillary is unable to defend her policies and actions. I have a feeling Trump won’t debate as nicely as Bernie did and by doing so he’ll probably win the debates. Get ready for 4 awful years of either Trump or Clinton- God help us.

    • Tobysgirl

      I doubt this will be the lowest turnout. Clinton’s dream opponent is Donald Trump. Many Republicans will be voting for her including her neoconservative fans such as Dick Cheney. And she is using Trump as her ace card — I am getting innumerable robocalls and you would think Trump was her VP pick considering how often she mentions him.

  • Althea Tyne

    Well in all fairness whether you are American or not, due to the power and wealth of our government there’s a good chance American policy does in fact reach you somehow.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Of course it does. Unfortunately.

  • Althea Tyne

    Sorry Dana but take it from a little old lady from Arkansas, Hillary isn’t worthy of anyone’s vote. There is a lot of evil in that woman. I’m still voting for Bernie.

  • Bleeps

    I wasn’t thrilled about the choices in 2008, and I was not expecting Obama’s presidency to be anything other than moderately Republican, but I’m still glad I voted for him. At least we’re not still widely pretending climate change isn’t real. At least we’re talking about expanding Social Security instead of cutting it. At least LGBTQ issues are embraced. At least there’s Sonya.

    Yeah, I’ll take more of that over going back to having a horrified laugh at the new, orange-faced W.

    • Tobysgirl

      I will repeat what the women below are saying: How great or even mediocre do you think the thousands of people Obama has bombed and incarcerated in detention think he is? Why does expanding Social Security (of which I am a recipient) trump other peoples’ right to live their lives, whether in Honduras or Syria? Carol Hanish has a great post at Meeting Ground Online regarding Americans’ lives of luxury and their seeming utter uncaring about other people.

      • Bleeps

        I don’t know how to fix everything. I do know that if Gore had been elected, he would not have been giving away free mega-SUV’s. Climate chaos is going to cause (is causing) immense suffering, and will contribute to global conflict on a scale that is absolutely terrifying. I would like to see the small amount of progress made with Obama continue, rather than be halted or reversed. If that’s all I can get, because I cannot get what I actually want (which was Kucinich in 2008, BTW) then so be it. It doesn’t mean I am indifferent to or uninformed about how much suffering America’s War Machine causes. It means I am only able to affect change where I can. Americans who are barely, barely, barely getting by are not going to do MORE politically when their own lives are made even worse by this anti-Dem ‘message’ being sent. If they can barely feed themselves, can’t/don’t go anywhere for fear of more gun violence… I’m sorry, it doesn’t seem to me like being willing to have Trump is more humane somehow, because, at least in principle, it means you are anti-war (despite the fact that he is highly unlikely to make rational, reasonable decisions with that particular presidential power). I don’t think increasing fascism, plutocracy, patriarchy, and capitalist enrichment at the expense of the literal planet, and everyone on it who is not very wealthy, will get better under a Trump presidency, no matter how angry or desperate people get. We already are angry and desperate. We’ve been angry and desperate. All most of us can do are the little things.

  • will

    Of course, the alternative – and there are only two shitty choices here – is to support Trump in a bid to hasten full economic collapse and some form of violent revolution motivated by deprivation and desperation.

    The two shitty choices are a culmination of a long historic process, of which we are all (I would hope) aware. No one here is saying that Clinton is going to champion justice and dismantle economic inequality, but it is not a stretch to say that both domestic and foreign policies will not be worse under her than they will be under Trump.

  • Tobysgirl

    Tell me it’s a conspiracy theory after you do some reading, such as Killing Hope by William Blum. I am sick of the truth being called a conspiracy theory by people who want to beat the drum for war criminals.

    • Wren

      Yes, I’m an ignorant, hawkish, fear-mongering status-quo loving bitch just because I want people to vote. You got me.