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.
Alton Sterling Matters.
Philando Castile Matters.
Black Lives Matter. pic.twitter.com/GmUFN9sDH6
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 7, 2016
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.