Susan Chira in ‘Feminism Lost. Now what?’ in the New York Times attempts the large task of understanding the national election in terms of its rejection of women’s issues AND offering something of a path forward. I was not very fond of it principally because it provides a forum with little criticism of what people are reported to say. For example, it seems to assume that Clinton was in the campaign principally to join the boys’ club of very powerful people. This view, coming from a prof at UC Hastings College of Law, does not seem very plausible to me, perhaps especially considering the very high cost for women of Republican leadership in my home state, Texas. Conservatives lament feminism left-leaning policies without being asked how they plan to mitigate the destructiveness for women of conservative policies.
All that said, it would be foolish to deny that feminism has to work harder to include women of different ethnicities, gender orientations, educational levels, abilities and class positions. (I apologize for any important categories left out, such as age.). There is a huge and important agenda for us.
To many inside and outside the feminist movement, the Clinton campaign message missed the mark.
“White working-class women saw Hillary Clinton as another privileged white woman wanting to break the glass ceiling,” said Joan C. Williams, professor at University of California Hastings College of the Law. “That metaphor makes sense if your central goal is to gain access to jobs that privileged men have. Hillary’s feminism was not about them.”
Feminism, which at its heart should mean opportunities for women in every sphere, has also come to be seen as a proxy for liberalism, alienating conservatives.
S. E. Cupp, a columnist for The Daily News in New York and a conservative who did not vote for Mr. Trump, said: “There’s a condescension that comes across from some in the women’s movement. There’s this idea that if you’re not liberal, you’re a traitor to your gender. Is our message alienating entire groups of people, including women?”
“Ashes to ashes, dust to white liberal feminism,” wrote LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant, associate professor of Africana studies at Williams College, in an impassioned open letter noting that white feminists now shared the kind of fears long known to black women.
Rather than playing down race, these women argue it’s essential to recognize its interconnection with feminism. Allowing racism to fester, they say, threatens not only black women but also white women, because it encourages white nationalism, which is also hostile to women’s rights.
But building bridges across racial and ethnic lines requires white feminists to understand that their experience is not universal, Professor Manigault-Bryant said. And it means defining women’s issues as broadly as possible.