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