I was a young women the last time that feminism became a hot topic and on that occasion the movement was already on the agenda because of the book The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidan, but the birth control pill gave women a true sense of relief and empowerment and gave the movement true impetus. If you could plan your pregnancies then you could be in control of a high-powered career, have children, and “have it all” as we said. Single women could experience some of the freedom men did while expressing their sexuality without, it seemed, an unwanted pregnancy which, even now, has the power to put a women’s life on an entirely new path, perhaps ruining their pursuit of a talent that would have made a key contribution to her culture.
I also remember the pressure from feminist leaders to make all women sign some sort of unwritten pledge that we would behave, from this time forward, in certain ways that they felt would further the women’s movement. Many of us were not quite ready, however, to give up our new freedom from male domination only to be dominated by an agenda set by women. We did experience a certain sense of sisterhood and there was a considerable high to be enjoyed by expressing the strength it gave us when we operated as a political and cultural bloc.
So I understand as well as possible what young women are saying about feminism in the 21st century being perhaps not quite the same as 20th century feminism and of not wanting to be disenfranchised by feminism in the way that women were once disenfranchised by men. But I also cannot help but remind myself that women are always being asked to wait for something else to happen before they take center stage. There is always an issue more pressing or a person whose needs are greater and so women, perhaps reluctantly but obligingly, agree to wait a while longer. Now we feel like we must wait for the revolution to happen. Why can’t we have a woman in the White House and a revolution at the same time? Hillary gets what we want and need as Americans. Why do we require, once again, a man to do the job? I do admire the steadfastness of Bernie Sanders and if he becomes the Democratic candidate I will support him. But for now I will hang with the sisters.
I don’t think Hillary asked Madeleine Albright to say what she did, although she probably expected it because she has heard it before. Once it had been said I am guessing that Hillary would just smile respectfully because Albright is the elder stateswoman to Hillary. Hillary says that even if young women don’t vote for her she will fight for them if she wins the day. I do not think that Hillary is running as a feminist. I do believe she is clear about the various needs of all Americans. I do not support her just because she is a woman, but she is the only really qualified woman we have produced so far who also has the desire to do this job. I hope that people, including young women, will not reject Hillary just because the fact that she is a woman seems to require that they vote for her. But I do hope they will think carefully about the positive reverberations that will echo into their own futures if Hillary breaks up that boy’s club now once and for all.
By Nancy Brisson