How Can You Even Be A Feminist If You Don't Agree With Women You Disagree With, Huh?
This week, the National Review posed an insincere question that has been plaguing insincere conservatives for generations, or at least since Phyllis Schlafly was around: Why don't feminists support women who have bad ideas and want to do bad things? Does that make them hypocrites?
We've heard this story this year with Kellyanne Conway, with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, with Gina Haspel, as well as with many other terrible women whose values, qualifications, and ideologies we are not at all into.
This time, the failing feminist is Kirsten Gillibrand, who recently made an off-handed cutesy comment -- which received plenty of pushback on the Left -- that, “If it wasn’t Lehman Brothers but Lehman Sisters, we might not have had the financial collapse.” While this comment would not be a big deal to most people, the geniuses over at the National Review have decided that this means that she is a big giant hypocrite for not voting in favor of female Trump nominees, just because they were horrible.
If Kirsten Gillibrand actually believes that it is really important to put women in positions of power, how does she show this? Let’s look at the area where she has the most personal influence over the gender of people in authority: how she has handled nominations of women to positions of power in the Executive Branch:
-Voted against Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of Homeland Security
-Voted against Elaine Chao as secretary of Transportation
-Voted against Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education
-Voted against Heather Wilson as secretary of the Air Force
-Voted against Linda McMahon to run the Small Business Administration
-Voted against Seema Verma to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
-Voted against Kristine Svinicki to run the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
-Voted against Neomi Rao to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
-Voted against Pam Patenaude as deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development
-Voted against Courtney Simmons Elwood as CIA general counsel
-Voted against Sigal Mandelker as under secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
-Voted against Jennifer Gillian Newstead as legal adviser of the Department of State
-Currently opposes Gina Haspel as CIA director
All of those women are awful, and I -- as a feminist -- am very glad that Kirsten Gillibrand voted against their confirmations.
To the kind of people who legitimately believe that people voted for Hillary Clinton explicitly due to her possession of a vagina, this is the ultimate gotcha question. They don't understand it! Why, if you would vote for one vagina, would you not vote for all of the vaginas whether you agree with them or not? "How is that fair?" they wonder. "Is that not what your 'identity politics' dictates? It certainly is what we've been saying it is for the past two years! What gives?"
Conservatives see a fundamental unfairness here, a system they cannot benefit from. They keep putting money in the woman thing and can't seem to get it to work. Ironically, they are the only ones out there trying to "do identity politics" the way they think it is done. They are the ones who think that they ought to be able to demand that women support a candidate just because she is a woman. They are the ones who think that the fact that they have policies that hurt women, overall, should be overlooked because "Look! We found a lady who agrees with us and thinks we are swell!"
They don't think it's possible for someone to simultaneously think, "It sure would be nice to finally have a female president!" and also think that not every woman on earth would be qualified to hold that position.
You see, in their eyes, women can only have things or achieve power by taking it from men who are more deserving than they are. They don't think, "Oh, there are both men and women who would be good at and qualified for this position, and also men and women who would be bad and not qualified." Yes, we like it when a qualified woman gets an important job or political position, no, we aren't going to vote for or support women who don't support our values or ideals. Both of these things can be true! In fact, they are true.
So no. Pointing out that Kirsten Gillibrand does not think literally every woman on earth is qualified and good for every job is not a big gotcha. I am not qualified to be a brain surgeon, and Betsy DeVos is not qualified to be in charge of education. People did not want Hillary Clinton to be president just because she was a woman, but because she was a very, very qualified woman with policies they liked better than Donald Trump's. It is strange that somehow we have not yet, as a nation, deemed any woman qualified enough for that position. That is a thing we should rectify, but you are not going to find a feminist on earth who thinks we should rectify that by putting an anti-feminist woman -- let's call her "Sarah Palin" -- in the White House.
It's not actually that hard to follow if you pay more attention to what people actually believe, as opposed to what you have imagineered they believe.
Wonkette is ad-free, possessed of several vaginas, and demands all your money at once. Also, to be the next director of the CIA.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse