Femininity As A Decisive Tool For Change


Illustration by Mekaila Tyrrell

Do you ever wish you could handcraft your perfect presidential candidate, then convince the whole country voting for this candidate would ensure all their needs — political, social, environmental, and emotional — would be met? It’s the twenty-first century, why aren’t handcrafted candidates a thing?

My perfect candidate would be empathetic down to her core, would act morally without an agenda, level with her potential voters, express herself freely, and use her femininity to help heal our country’s wounds, all the while appealing to voters on both sides of the fence. In an era where certain aspects of femininity are frowned upon, this ideal situation is far beyond a long shot. One shed tear is considered irreverence.

To me, women are powerful stakeholders in this male-dominated society. Our intuition, patience, and ability to overcome obstacles with grace is something unparalleled, and a force to be reckoned with. Where masculinity alone is insufficient in accomplishing the task at hand, femininity shines through and balances the act. These virtues that make my heart sing for women are the same ones that are unacceptable in our society.

The concept of masculinity and femininity is one that our society needs to examine and re-evaluate if we can ever envision equality. If we look in depth at what is missing in our society, it is the divine feminine.

In our president, we look for the candidate who will be an aggressive and disciplined leader — each masculine characteristics. The moment a candidate shows an inkling of emotion, or dare I say nurturement, it’s considered weakness. If we balance competitiveness with affection, toughness with tenderness, strength with love, and aggressiveness with receptivity, we could potentially end the negative stereotypes associated with femininity and move toward peace.

Femininity could act as a tool for decisive change in our country. Honoring feminine nature and allowing it to balance the authoritative motifs of patriarchy can help heal our collective pesimism that impedes on the quality, enjoyment, and fulfillment our lives have to offer.

This conversation comes at a time where even our first female presidential candidate gets heat for showing her femininity. Not only this, but politicians who show emotion are outed as weak. Take the way John Boehner’s history of crying led to an internet roast that tarnished his masculine shell. This baffles me, but as I come to understand how patriarchal constructs have programmed us to believe femininity is weakness, it makes sense why we’ve gone this long without really considering a woman candidate.

As a young and naive girl, I wondered why the United States never had a woman president, and when I asked my loved ones, I got a response along the lines of, “Our country isn’t ready for a woman leader.” While many would disagree, including myself, I now see how femininity could shape our country in an unprecedented way. Given our history, that shift may not be something many people living in this country are ready for.

Come November, we may elect our very first woman president, and so would establish a 44:1 elected men-to-woman ratio. Given our country’s past 227 years under male leadership, it’s hard to consider the potential a woman would have as commander in chief.

This election is a game changer. Not only is Hillary Clinton a real prospect in becoming our first woman president, but we’ve also encountered the rise and fall of a potential socialist revolution with Bernie Sanders, and outcries both for and against Donald Trump’s controversial policies on immigration, taxation, abortion, and every other policy his campaign has to offer.

The energy is alive, but not enough of it is focused in a meaningful direction. The twenty-four-hour news cycles of left and right slanted stations offer the same meaningless commentary day after day without analysis of what could be improved to create a society that would benefit us all.

Sexism tears at the very fabric of femininity. It goes far beyond just dishonoring it, but actually diminishes it. There simply are no excuses for sexism.

The need for femininity has emerged in different ways during this election cycle. What stands out most to me are the facts Trump has repeatedly made sexist comments about women, and Clinton has accepted aid from countries that heavily suppress women.

Sexism tears at the very fabric of femininity. It goes far beyond just dishonoring it, but actually diminishes it. There simply are no excuses for sexism.

Given my political background, I resonate with a certain set of Trump’s policies like his plans to lower taxes on corporations to bring jobs back into the U.S. economy, and his healthcare policy that would allow insurance purchases across state lines to lower prices drastically. But I cringe in regret when I think of his hateful misogyny, so I feel compelled to have generative conversations around this issue in order to tackle his unjust stances against women.

At a rally in Spokane, Washington in May, Trump accused Clinton of “playing the woman’s card,” or using her gender to become a part of history while she covered up her involvement in scandals and her “crooked” policies. And so many Clinton supporters act along the same line of ignorance when voting for her, “Because she’s a woman!”

To pull any card — sex, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, and more — is to negate the intersectionality amongst the card that was pulled. To pull the card is to leave it out.

The issue with the “woman card” is that it clumps women together into one demographic, when there are so many extraordinary kinds. To pull any card — sex, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, and more — is to negate the intersectionality amongst the card that was pulled. To pull the card is to leave it out.

Clinton certainly has the womens’ vote. According to the Pew Research Center, “There is a 16-point gender gap in general election support for Clinton. Overall, 59 percent of women voters say they would support Clinton over Trump, compared with 43 percent of men.”

However, this doesn’t mean that Clinton appeals to each demographic embodied under the category of woman.

“There’s always the question of which candidate is going to be better for feminist politics, however any individual defines feminist politics,” Deborah Cohler, associate professor of women and gender studies at San Francisco State University said. “I mean, there are some very strong feminists who are very opposed to Hillary Clinton because of a lot of the positions that she takes. They are not Trump supporters, but they are not Clinton supporters.”

Woman or not, the president’s policies would hopefully respect the vast diversity of women residing in our country, and honors femininity in its many forms. And because the commander-in-chief holds a great deal of influence, the person we elect would do the entire world a service by speaking against misogyny overseas and considering plans to alleviate it.

Dismally, it seems as though Clinton fell into the game play when the Clinton Foundation accepted tens of millions of dollars from countries — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman to name a few — that heavily oppress women. The foundation’s website states that their mission is to “improve global health and wellness” and “increase opportunity for girls and women,” yet those ideals do not add up when the foundation accepts funds stained with human rights violations.

This egregiously undermines the expression of femininity, which convinces me that Clinton has let the pressure of our masculine-dominated society cloud her own feminine intuition.

I’m not sure what the point is in voting for a woman who will do the same things in office that a male democrat would do. What sort of fresh perspectives does she bring to the table that are different than what President Barack Obama has done? She’ll further most of his policies, or else she risks alienating her party. And if she sways too far away, she risks losing the male vote. She plays it safe, very much unlike her opponent.

I am still unsure who to vote for. I can’t say #I’mWithHer or that I want to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. Neither nominee honors the feminine nature in all of us. They both, in fact do quite the opposite.

Until then, I think that in order to promote more feminism in our society, we owe it to ourselves to embrace each aspect of our psyche, and balance the dominating masculine with the curious feminine.