“I don’t,” they say with a tiny sneer and just a little bit of a thrill of anticipation at how they’re about to scandalize the old woman, “vote with my vagina.” “After all,” the next line usually goes, “I didn’t vote for Sarah Palin just because she had,” and by now they’re not getting the reaction they expected and, so, are feeling the need to double down on the shock value, “a vagina.” “So why,” they continue, “should I vote for Hillary Clinton just because she has,” — and you know what’s coming — “a vagina?”
Men have a variation on it, too. They can mansplain for hours how a vote for Ms. Clinton isn’t “really” a feminist vote. And, by the way, they would totally vote for a woman. They would. Just not this woman, this time. Maybe if Elizabeth Warren were running or maybe if the country weren’t at such a turning point, well, then, for sure, they’d almost certainly vote for a woman. It’s not AT ALL that they’re sexist. It just that it wasn’t that woman, that time, in 2008 and, now here we are again, and well, it’s still not that woman, this time, in 2016. But, for sure, some other woman, some other time. Check back with them in 2025. Maybe by then we’ll have a woman who combines all the experience and gravitas needed with all of the je ne sais quoi of a young Barack Obama, an aged Bernie Sanders, an equivocating John Kerry, and a cheating John Edwards. If not, well, there’s always 2034.
And, besides, America has a long history of delaying the day when women come into power. You know, even Abigail Adams had to admit that winning the War of Independence from Britain was more important than “remembering the ladies,” and, then, women were supposed to wait until we got the slaves freed, because, well, of course, that was more important. And, then, well, time went by and, gee, it was more important to win WWI than to deal with some interfering social issues, and then, OMG, there was the Depression. MEN, you know, MEN were out of work, humiliated because they couldn’t support a family, and it was, obviously, more important to deal with that than to address, you know, “women’s issues.” And then, well, next thing you know, we’ve got to win WWII, and thanks, ladies, thanks for being Rosie the Riveter and all, but, well, you know, now that the war is over, you need to give up your jobs so that “the soldiers” can have them back, at full pay, which was more than we paid you. But, that’s OK, now we’re at peace, but, whoops, now it’s time to address the civil rights of African Americans and so, well, maybe you can run the mimeo machine and make coffee, Sister. Your place in the movement is the same place it’s always been: on your backs. No one can multi-task. That was OK, though, because as soon as we passed the Civil Rights Bill, we were going to focus on women except, well, first we had to end the War in VietNam where “our boys” were getting killed and where, for those of us on the Left, “our boys” were going to jail and moving to Canada. It would have been pretty selfish to demand women’s rights in the face of those sacrifices. So, the war ended, but, somehow, the ERA didn’t pass. And, so, well, sorry, but that super-experienced woman had to yield the job to that cool, young guy, whom we were all sure would be really! progressive even when he repudiated the “anti-war left” and said that his political hero was Ronald Regan. After all, she “voted for the war,” while he just, well, embodied hope and change but showed up and basically continued Bush’s war on the Middle East, droned the hell out of wedding parties, and generally acted the huge hawk that she was criticized for being. And, now, well, now it would impede the glorious Democratic Socialist revolution of a privileged old white man from New York and New England to vote with our vaginas and (as if men haven’t voted with their dicks for over two centuries) demand a woman president.
But, no worries, women. Some woman. Some time. Meanwhile, Sweetie, can you make some coffee, send some emails, assuage some dude’s ego? Send out some tweets, post this stuff on Instagram, take care of the menial stuff. Can you sneer at the old women while you do it? We’ll give your blog attribution.
So, look, here’s the thing: I’m totally going to vote with my vagina this time. But that’s OK. I’ve voted with my vagina in every single election in which I’ve ever been allowed to vote. I’ve never walked into the voting booth unaccompanied by all of my ancestresses: my grandmas and great-grandmas and aunts, and great-aunts, and every single ancestress who PRETTY MUCH LIVED HER ENTIRE LIFE DEFINED BY HER VAGINA AND WAS KEPT OUT OF THE VOTING BOOTH BY, OH YEAH, HER — you guessed it — VAGINA.
I’m going to be sixty years old in a few weeks. I’ve been living in this man’s world for a long time and I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve played let’s pretend, and I’ve done errands and chores, and I’ve read books, and I’ve gotten good grades, and I’ve fallen in love, and I’ve had a baby right out of my vagina while my husband and the doctor bonded over discussing fishing and ignored me right there on the delivery table, and I’ve raised a kind, wise, and wonderful son who married a wonderful, kick-ass woman, and I’ve gone to college, and I’ve taught highschoolers, and I’ve graduated near the top of my class in law school, and I’ve been on law review, and I’ve done appellate law for decades at a white-shoe law firm, and I’ve been in deep relationship with my land base, and I’ve been the world’s happiest Nonna, and I’ve made a garden and a home, and I’ve done magic, and I’ve written a lot about Paganism, and every single one of those things — every single one of them — I’ve done them with my vagina. Because, here, in the Patriarchy, there’s no other way for me to ever do anything in which I am not defined by my vagina. No matter what I do or how I do it, whatever I do, everyone involved defines me by my vagina.
But I should leave my vagina at the door when I vote?
Look, I don’t know anyone who’s suggesting that you vote for Hillary Clinton “just” because she has a vagina. Nice strawoman. No, I didn’t vote for Sarah Palin, either, but, here’s the truth: I did spend a little bit of time agonizing over it. Because, as much as I disagree with Ms. Palin, and as much as I think she lacks what it takes to be Vice President, I do think that getting a woman, almost any woman, into the Oval Office would be a good thing. (I had a lot of doubts about Mr. Obama’s readiness for the Oval Office, although, once he won the nomination, I supported him because I knew that he’d be better than John McCain or Mitt Romney. But I think that having an African American in the Oval Office has been a very good thing.) If the Republicans had nominated, for example, Christie Todd Whitman, with whom I disagree on almost any policy you could name, there’s a very good chance that I’d have voted for her, in order to break the glass ceiling. I’m not going to vote for Ms. Clinton “just” because she has a vagina. But her vagina is one of the deciding factors for me. There’s a huge amount of sexism in the suggestion that including Ms. Clinton’s sex (her vaginia) in the calculus is somehow wrong. She gets dinged for it at every turn, but giving her credit for it is a bad thing? Really?
I’m not alone in thinking this way. Asheville’s village Witch, Byron Ballard, said:
I have a kind of electoral trauma that flings me right back to the 2008 election. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, there was a male voice saying exactly the right things for a certain portion of the electorate and the level of misogyny that erupted from self-described “progressives” was surprising, hurtful. But I know the beast now, having lived through that, and the Occupy movement with its careless sexism and frequently dangerous situations for women activists. So this year’s brand of misogyny will not stand in my world, whether online or face-to-face. Expect that it will be met with less wit and more vitriol. Because I–and many of the women I know–are simply done with it. We have spent our lives working on justice issues of many kinds and now it is time to focus on this. No more. No fucking more.
My brilliant friend, E, who wrote her UVA thesis on reconciling the ethics of care with the ethics of justice, simply pointed me to this article.
Another Asheville Witch, Star, explained that she finds it:
ironic that the things both the Sanders camp & the Republicans choose to attack her (and Bill) about are non-issues. She was a damn good Secretary of State.
So vote for the candidate you prefer. Mr. Sanders has some great proposals and if he’s the nominee, I’m going to remember that I live in a purple state, swallow my disappointment, and vote for him. But you can quit right now sneering at me for voting with my vagina. Because that’s exactly how I’m going to vote.
Picture found here.