“I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” Hillary Clinton said in a video address to the DNC, the day she was officially crowned their Democratic presidential nominee. She couldn’t have picked a comment more exemplary of liberal “feminism,” perfectly positioning herself as its beneficiary in that moment.
We would be deceived (as the men who rule every sector of our patriarchal state, as well as those who benefit from it, want us to be) if we believed that Clinton’s personal and professional victory, her wealth and her seizure of government power, will trickle down to all other females in this country. What we’re witnessing is not an advancement towards female liberation, but the kind of individualized success made possible only through cooperation with the capitalistic patriarchal state that liberal faux-feminists base their hollow “equality” politics on — a slick distraction from the sex-based oppression of females that remains unaffected no matter how many women break their own glass ceilings.
To believe that a woman like Clinton can rise through the ranks of the male supremacist state, buoying her political career with millions of dollars in donations from corporations, big banks, and foreign governments controlled by men, on a platform that poses a serious and legitimate threat to male supremacy and misogyny is equivalent to believing in Santa Claus. One does not spend decades in the rotten heart of an oppressive system and personally benefit within it by holding any genuine desire to see that system destroyed. Whether in wishful thinking or mere defensiveness, some feminist-identified liberals may argue that Clinton’s collusion with patriarchal male supremacy in government has been a necessary charade, put on for the sake of arriving at the presidential office where she can finally reveal her true “feminist” agenda with nothing to lose and the power to attack the system. But not even she is that good at lying.
In 1995, as First Lady, Clinton delivered her famous remarks to China and the United Nations, saying “Women’s rights are human rights.” Years later, before, during, and after her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton received millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation from brutally misogynistic countries: Algeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and the United Arab Emirates. For feminist-identified Clinton supporters, ignoring or excusing this speaks less to hypocrisy or denial and more to the cultural relativism that permeates the liberal demographic, which always excuses misogyny overseas based on the bizarre logic that criticizing the black, brown, and Muslim cultures of the world for anything is racist, colonialist, and Islamophobic.
Dirty donations aside, Clinton was a key orchestrator of American military occupations in the Middle East that ultimately contributed to the region’s instability, obviously without caring that military-involved conflict always leads to female suffering and death within war zones. She spearheaded U.S. interference in Libya’s civil war, and now, since the death of Gadhafi, polygamy has been legalized in the country again. Women were killed in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in Israeli attacks that Clinton excused. Iraqi women have suffered more sexual violence and political oppression as a result of the Islamic fundamentalist regimes that replaced Hussein’s secular government after the U.S. invasion Senator Clinton voted for and now face horror under ISIS. Four years as Secretary of State wasn’t enough time for Clinton to make a statement on behalf of Iraqi women. Instead, she supported the 2009 coup in Honduras, which resulted in greater violence against Honduran women, and the Moroccan government’s record on women’s and human rights, despite the fact that until 2014 Morocco legally absolved male rapists who married their victims. (Note that Morocco has also donated to the Clinton Foundation.) You could argue that Clinton has improved women’s lives in America, but even if that were true, feminism that seeks liberation and well-being only for women in one’s own country is too selfish and ultimately fragile to warrant praise.
On November 15, 2007, in a Democratic primary debate hosted in Nevada, Clinton was asked if national security is more important than human rights. She answered:
“I agree with that completely. The first obligation of the president of the United States is to protect and defend the United States of America. That doesn’t mean that it is to the exclusion of other interests. And there’s absolutely a connection between a democratic regime [in Pakistan] and heightened security for the United States.”
Her record as secretary of state would later bear this answer out. If Clinton still believes that “Women’s rights are human rights,” it appears that the caveat is: men decide what women’s rights are, women’s rights are important only when it conveniences the U.S. government, and human rights only matter as long as said humans are the rights ones, in the right place, at the right time.
No wonder so many liberals support her.
Short of voting for the continued legality of abortion on the federal level and supporting pay equity (which has yet to be achieved), Clinton and her liberal supporters have nothing to offer women as a class in America or the world. They provide no analytical criticism of the patriarchy or concrete plans to erode it. They never utter the phrase “male violence,” choosing instead to focus on gun control, which conveniently allows them to pin the blame on conservatives and the NRA every time there’s another mass shooting, while ignoring male violence that doesn’t involve firearms. Clinton supports legislation that prevents domestic violence perpetrators from buying a gun, an important and necessary measure that would protect women, but hasn’t said a single word in 20-odd years about the global and national pattern of male violence, even as she made political choices that inflamed it overseas. She’s never held men’s feet to the fire, not for murder or rape or pedophilia or any other kind of widespread violence against women and girls. She and her liberal voter base, along with virtually everybody else on the left, would rather argue with the right about gun control vs. mental illness and Islamic terrorism, ad nauseum.
Meanwhile, 2681 American women were murdered in 2014, according to the FBI, and looking at their numbers going back to 2010, that’s an average annual total.
Because we know males commit up to 90 per cent of all homicides, despite being less than half of the national population, we can infer that most women murdered in America are killed by a male. The annual rate of male-on-female homicide in America is higher than the annual casualty rate of active-duty military in Iraq and Afghanistan going back to 2002, yet Hillary Clinton and feminist-identified liberals want to talk about equal pay. They protest conservative attacks on abortion rights, but don’t hold your breath for them to get behind a political agenda that regulates the porn industry and adopts the Nordic Model. That might upset the men on the left. And Clinton and her liberal supporters are only allowed to upset the men on the right.
Is she worse for women than the men that came before her? No. Is Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama more “feminist” than Clinton? Of course not. As far as I’m concerned, men can’t be feminists, only allies (and I have yet to encounter one who even deserves the “ally” title). Should we hold Clinton to a higher standard when it comes to labouring for female liberation than we hold male politicians? No. And that’s the point: Hillary might as well be a man for all the good she’s going to do women in America and around the world.
Feminist-identified liberals in her camp who want to declare a Clinton presidency a “feminist victory,” simply because she’s female and votes the same way on abortion as every other Democratic politician, have predictably fallen into the trap of believing that a woman wielding government power within our patriarchal society is a signal that male supremacy is under siege. In reality, the only thing “representative politics” achieves in the long run is making some people feel better, while allowing the oppressor classes to point at said representation in their government and say, “See? We let a woman be president. Aren’t we gracious and fair, after all?”
When it comes to female liberation, Hillary Clinton fails as a politician the same way all liberal politicians do. If your goal is to make some women more comfortable within the misogynistic, male supremacist society we live in, Clinton probably won’t disappoint, given four to eight years in the White House. If you want to see the long overdue next phase of the feminist revolution, she and her allies in the federal government will leave you in the same purgatory that Barack Obama did — a purgatory decorated with “equality” buttons and “choice” banners and big screen TVs with 500 channels of drug store makeup commercials, porn full of 18 year old girls deep-throating middle-aged men to avoid poverty, and 21 flavors of femicide. But enough people are comfortable in that purgatory that if Clinton wins the presidency, they’ll be more than happy to declare the first woman president a historical and symbolic victory for American women, who will then know that they can truly do anything in theory, even as their lives stay exactly the same as they were with a male commander-in-chief.
Marie Crosswell is a novelist, short story writer, and poet. She lives in the Southwestern United States.