I have been told by otherwise intelligent, alert, accomplished women that I must vote for Hillary Clinton. Some have said itís because failing to cast my vote for Billís charming better half will be a de facto plus one for team Trump. While I doubt that is the case, and polls seem to bear me out, itís a fairly respectable argument: Hillary minus me, minus many other women equals Donald Trump.
But there are also the sisters who tell me I must vote for Clinton because she is a woman, and I am a woman, and ďit is time.Ē They often say this with a strange gleam in their eyes, which makes me feel as if I am about to be sucked up into the skies as a part of some feminist rapture. They are the true believers, zealots who look upon Clinton as the prophet foretold in the Old Testament, otherwise known as Ms. Magazine, which we still consult for its ancient wisdom about egalitarian pronouns and the best way to wear aviator glasses (if you can still find them).
Three and a half decades ago, when I graduated from Bryn Mawr College, Ronald Reagan was in office. This suited me just fine, but of course you can imagine that at a place where female students sucked feminist milk from the teat of Athena, there was that bright hope that one day a woman would kick that cranky old actorís butt out of D.C. Still waiting. Tick, tock.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the revolution. Some women started realizing that they didnít need symbolism to achieve fulfillment. Yes, it was lovely when Sandra Day OíConnor made her way onto the Supreme Court, but she didnít help me pass the bar any faster. Yes, it was magnificent to watch Sally Ride ascend to the stars, but it didnít have the same transcendental impact as that ďone step for man.Ē Yes, Madeline Albright, she of the ďspecial place in hell for women who donít help each otherĒ became secretary of state and before that ambassador to the U.N. But she botched the job six ways from Sunday, so that wasnít exactly one for the win column.
So, yes, we had our symbolic moments, and they were nice, but it didnít really do anything other than give us a few more pictures to put on that Womenís History Month calendar. While these tokens were being celebrated, other women were going out, getting jobs, running companies, marrying, refusing to marry, having children, refusing to have children, winning Oscars, commanding multimillion dollar salaries, slipping into poverty, dying of AIDS, dying of breast cancer, winning Nobel Peace prizes and bringing home the bacon.
In other words, the photo ops with the ďfirstsĒ did very little to change the condition of the American woman, which has improved dramatically since our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were given the right to vote.
But there are women out there who just donít get it, and many of them belong to anachronistic groups like Emilyís List and the National Organization for Women. Not that these institutions support all women. If you oppose abortion rights, you might as well have a penis as far as they are concerned. I think thatís because women who are shallow enough to believe in the value of symbols have a stunning lack of cerebral suppleness; their brains became ossified in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided and they canít conceive (pun intended) of any women who believe in the sanctity of unborn human life.
Still, a certain type of lady finds comfort in these organizations, which, far from promoting their empowerment through education and equality of opportunity, teach them to complain about the patriarchy. That is a classic ploy, and it used to work rather nicely but has lost a good bit of its effectiveness. The reason itís lost any significant sway with intelligent women is that so few of them are victims of that patriarchy any longer.
Which brings me back to Hillary. Most of the women who are so anxious to see her in office are my age or older. They think this is our last real chance to see ovaries in the Oval Office. Younger women donít really care. They grew up in an era when pretty much anything was possible. And they have time. They care about substance, not symbols. They may in fact vote for Hillary, who knows.
But Year of the Woman? Thatís so 1973.
Christine M. Flowers
Philadelphia Daily News