Powerful Women Must Prove Their Feminism

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Theresa May is our Prime Minister, the second woman ever to lead our country. Hillary Clinton is competing in a very close race to be President of the United States. If she wins, it would be a huge landmark moment for women across America.

However, it takes more than just gender for feminist victory to be achieved. Over the course of their careers, both May and Clinton have been embroiled in controversy and enacted policies that have diverse effects that ripple across society. The Conservative Party’s austerity policies have hit women the hardest, particularly low income women, and to say Theresa May had no hand in that would be a discredit to her. Other policies have hurt female immigrants, refugees, and others.

Theresa May’s success tells some girls that they can achieve great things – but this seems aimed at girls who are white, British, middle-class, cisgender and heterosexual. May’s voting history sends a better message than her speeches, with a long history of voting against same-sex adoption and other equal rights, only voting in favour of same-sex marriage when the party line turned.

So perhaps a female Prime Minister is a success for feminism, if you believe that feminism should only apply to a privileged few. If you believe, as I do, that feminism must help the most downtrodden in our society, must act to be inclusive of LGBT+ individuals, BME individuals, and the working-class, a female Prime Minister who does not act in the interest of those groups is the opposite of feminist.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton has policies that are far more pro-woman. Her active support of Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice policies, along with committing to supporting LGBT communities and enacting anti-discrimination laws, something the United States currently lacks, is certainly a promising start. Likewise, Clinton has spoken in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, suggesting she’s not just an important figure for rich white women in the way that Theresa May is.

What both May and Clinton fail to understand is that what they do is far more important than who they are. May put on a t-shirt and declared herself a feminist but has done nothing to prove that is the case, and while Clinton fares better, her efforts to appeal to female voters fall a little flat.

Women in power must act to support other women. Not just women like them, but women from every area of society, facing a truly diverse set of struggles. The women we have in power at the moment are not doing enough and their claims of feminism must be rejected.

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Politics with Social Policy student, nerd, prone to strong opinions, and enthusiastic kazoo player.

Discussion4 Comments

  1. avatar

    Clinton is a massive hypocrite. She’s never once addressed the more serious issue of black on black homicides in the US, with a staggering figure of 4,472 black men killed by other black men annually between 2009 and 2012. In that same period, 112 black men were killed in both justified and unjustified police killings.

    What’s more, the threat level of 730 of the 990 people killed in police killings in the US in 2015 was classified as ‘Attack in Progress’, with many of the killings of unarmed black men reported as either a struggle with the police officer or an attempt to grab the officer’s weapon. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the American police service needs a big reform and there is still a worrying (but not huge) amount of unjustified shootings, but the real issue lies in homicides within the black community. But BLM never mentions them at all. Why? Because it doesn’t fit their specified agenda of despising white police officers.

    It’s so easy to take to twitter, scribble down a few names of some victims who were unjustifiably shot by police, and say ‘Black Lives Matter’. Anyone can join that bandwagon. But unless you take heed to the enormous issue of black on black killings and addressing the frightening crime rate in black communities across America (when Black people make up around 13% of the population), then I’m afraid the general principles of black lives mattering doesn’t really matter that much to that specific person.

  2. avatar
    Emma Perry

    I’m not entirely sure why you’ve decided to focus solely on the Black Lives Matter aspect of this article, but regardless I disagree with you.

    Black on black homicide is an issue hugely influenced by socioeconomic factors – factors that are created by structural racism (which, by the way, is perpetuated by the unjust killings of black citizens). To mention it without discussing that black people are disproportionately likely to have a lower socioeconomic status is disingenuous. If you’re interested, these sources, though old, explain this more thoroughly: http://jech.bmj.com/content/54/7/517.short http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7769768

    Secondly: Hillary Clinton may not have addressed the issue of black on black homicide, but other activists certainly have. There have been protests organised by black communities across the United States against black on black crime, and efforts to improve the socioeconomic status of BME people, including those led by – surprise! – #BlackLivesMatter, reference an effort to reduce crime. This discusses protests held a few years ago: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/04/why-dont-black-people-protest-black-on-black-violence/255329/

    Thanks for your time!

  3. avatar

    I’m commenting on an aspect of your article which you yourself wrote, and you’re surprised that I picked up on it?

    Anyway, about your point about the socioeconomic status of these communities: I am fully aware that poverty and socioeconomic background has strong ties to crime rates. I am in no way insinuating that the fact that they are black directly correlates to the crime rate. And I’m sorry, but if you’re saying that the crime rates in black communities are the white man’s sole doing then you’re very misinformed. The argument that ‘I commit crime because the white man is richer than me/has a higher social status than me’ is not an argument which is justified, I’m afraid. There is no domineering force which pushes black people down when they try and climb the ladder of society. And where is this evidence of ‘structured racism’? Do you mean institutional racism? Because you can’t craft a narrative of calling an institution racist by the actions of a few. Would you find it fair to label the Catholic sect of Christianity as pedophilic just because of the actions of a few priests? No, then you can’t do the same for the police. There are, of course, racist police officers, no doubt, but the police force in America is not racist as an institution.

    And there’s also something called ‘affirmative action’, which is a perfect embodiment of institutional racism, wherein companies look to fill their diversity quotas by hiring more people of ethnic minorities, just because of the colour of their skin. This is happening all over developed countries, particularly in the UK, wherein, in fact, on the Hampshire Constabulary website, as one of many examples, for the application to become a police officer, it says in black and white that they encourage applications from people of minority backgrounds to heighten diversity in the force. Not only this, but in America too, wherein ”In the uniformed ranks, it’s virtually 50-50 [white vs. non-white],” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told The Post. These figures aren’t a bad thing, of course not, but the fact that race is taken into account in such application stages is RACISM.

    And yes, there may have been some protestations against black on black crime, but not nearly enough to represent the figures which I gave in my previous comment. The very fact that the article you posted has that given title is testament to the fact that black communities would seemingly rather vilify the actions of police officers than black killers without a second thought: black killers and black victims who make up significantly more of the killings on a national scale. A young black girl doing her homework in her bedroom is struck and killed by a stray bullet from a black-on-black gang shooting in her neighbourhood. Where was the BLM outrage there? And when you see banners and chants on rallies which entail ‘Oink Oink Bang Bang’ and ‘Dead Pigs: what comes around goes around’, it’s not to see why many view BLM as a hate group. I’m not saying that all members are racist, far from it, but it seems as though BLM is more of a hateful organisation than the police force itself: ironic, isn’t it?

    Also, in reference to your article, ”Last fall, Parishioners on Patrol organized a Stop the Violence rally and march that attracted 150 people” – compare that to some of the biggest rallies organised by BLM against police shootings, many of said rallies involving chants and banners which would serve to incite more violence, and has caused more violence in the shooting of the Dallas police officers and other innocent officers following that, then these Stop the Violence rallies pale in comparison.

    The crux here is that you cannot blame others for your own wrongdoing. Shooting a police officer, or another black person for that matter, is not excused because another police officer unjustly shot an unarmed man running away from him. Violence breeds more violence, and BLM is an organisation which is rife in promoting violence and hateful speech towards the police force.

  4. avatar

    Jill Levy actually argues an interesting point which may go some way to explaining the high rate of homicides in black communities, and it doesn’t entail white oppression:

    “A suspect was arrested in 38 percent of the 2,677 killings involving black male victims in the city of Los Angeles.” This lack of accountability is the primary cause, she argues, of the high homicide rate in some African-­American neighborhoods: “Where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death,” she writes, “homicide becomes endemic.”

    If you want a very thorough academic’s approach on this topic, Ben Shapiro is your man.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc6SjNF7RGo

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