Friday, April 25, 2008

The Right Woman for the Job

Is America ready to have a female leader? There are many people who believe that the feminist movement is over, however, there is a woman who actively displays the continuance of this movement. Many people do not realize that her attempt to become the first female president will narrow the gap of respect between male and female. Contemplate the fact that a woman might win the presidency. This will help end the misconception that women are subservient to men. When Hillary Clinton declared her candidacy, sexism in America revealed itself prominently. This began the notion that the feminist movement continues. Hillary’s success in the presidential race will be gauged on how well she portrays herself as an individual. Hillary’s success will be portrayed through her ideals as a third- wave feminist, influences growing up in the second- wave, and her impact on the fourth-wave.

Third- wave feminism exists due to apparent failures and backlash against initiatives and movements created by the second-wave. Susan Faludi wrote a book, Backlash, which discusses the spread of negative stereotypes against career-minded women. Faludi states that people who believe that “a woman’s place is in the home, looking after the kids” are hypocrites because they are exactly like the women they condemn. Hillary is chastised for being a woman of power, and her struggle for success is being diminished by ignorant people. While campaigning in New Hampshire two men shouted, “Iron my shirts!” from the large crown. She responded, “Ah, the remnants of sexism,” then stated, “alive and well (Fortini).” Hillary prides herself in her individualism. Because she is career-oriented and has had quick success throughout her political career, people feel threatened of her. For a woman who has been a successful attorney, served 7 years as one of New York’s Senators, and currently coming off a victory in the Pennsylvania primaries, she is enjoying the fruits of her labor. Faludi has stated she is, “a joy of female independence (Chaudry).” It seems the more people neglect and criticize her success the more she strives for it.

In Jennifer Baumgardner’s and Amy Richards’, Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, Hillary exemplifies certain parts of the Manifesta. The 11th part of the Manifesta discusses how equalizing pay for jobs with worth, and how the workplace should be responsive to individual’s wants, needs and talents (Baumgardner & Richards, 628). The Manifesta is a call to action in a sense, and she takes advantage of the opportunities that were presented to her. Another aspect that relates to Hillary is in the 12 part of the Manifesta. It states that women share the same goal of equality, and support other women in order to gain power so they are able to make their own choices. This is relative to Hillary because she repeatedly denied Bill Clinton’s marriage proposal because she wanted to assume a career in Washington D.C. Though she eventually moved with him to Arkansas, she resumed her career in law (Fortini). Consequently, Hillary’s characteristics of a third- wave feminist are contributed by second-wave influences.

Growing up in the second- wave molded Hillary in to the person she is today.

Hillary was born in the baby boom generation. That particular generation grew up being told to stay at home with their children and instead of venturing into the workplace. This caused a rebellion of traditional thought. Those who thought for themselves were thought to be rebels of sort. They continued to question the “choice” they made. This led to boomer women constantly questioning the choices they were making, thus leading to more and more women thinking about filling a void in their lives. This void caused women to become more educated, more career driven, and especially more successful. Second-wave feminists claim that the efforts that helped revolutionize America and promote women's status declined as the political and social climate became stagnant (Friedlin). However, Hillary has distanced herself from the norms society has placed on her by working hard. It may seem that the movement is stagnant, but there are many women like her who have distinguished themselves like Condoleezza Rice and Nancy Pelosi. In response to the “stagnant” movement Jennifer Baumgardner indicated the third-wave movement is the response of the failures in the second- wave. Evidently, ideas like this assert the fact that women, such as Hillary, are continuing to make a difference not only for themselves but also for future generations.

Patricia Ireland of the National Organization for Women, states Hillary Clinton, has made most of the money in her family, and she knows what she is doing. Also she exemplifies woman who in a way symbolizes the mature understanding of all '60s activists (Mundy, 7). Ireland states “The feminist movement has always been about women’s ability to make their own choices.” Clearly, Hillary has made her own choices and has made an everlasting impact on society. This impact on society has led to her possible mark on the incipient stages of the fourth- wave of feminism.

The fourth-wave of feminism can be seen as the final and most important push for equality. Having a woman in the White House would steer our society as a whole in that direction. With the possibility of a woman leading the most powerful nation in the world, it is not absurd to think that there will be an even keel for men and women. Hillary’s possible presidency will cause a chain reaction for women in all parts of the world. Women will try to succeed in all ways that they can, and they will feel that there are no impediments that will obstruct their path to success. Women have commented on a possible fourth- wave. One woman stated that there will be defined in many ways and not just one. A woman and man can finds ways to coexist rather than find separate vices in one another (Maria). With Hillary’s impact this far into the election, women all over the world are beginning to believe that societal norms are beginning to dwindle. Younger generations understand that sex is not a justifiable way to judge leadership. However, there are problems seen with the third- wave, motioning the fact that there will be a fourth-wave.

One common issue raised by critics is that there is no single cause for third-wave feminism. The first-wave fought for the women’s right to vote. The second-wave obtained the right for women to have equal opportunity in the workforce and ended legal sex discrimination (Fortini). However, the third-wave of feminism lacks a unified goal, and it is often seen as a branch of the second-wave. The problem is also seen in that third-wave feminism does not have a clear distinction from second-wave feminism. The biggest goal for third-wave feminists is to try to unify all feminists towards one common goal. This is quite difficult, which has led to the subsequent waves. Hillary has done this successfully. She has found a way to create an unusual alliance that belies the pre- and post-boomer generational divide propounded by the media (Fortini). If Hillary wins the presidency, the post-Hillary shift in consciousness, can be dubbed the Hillary-movement because of its impact. This will give solutions to the problems the third-wave has generated, and possibly augment the third- wave or start a fourth-wave. There has been pressure towards Clinton to compose a speech on gender similar to that of Obama’s race speech. However, she felt she needed to go in another direction. Clinton confronts the malevolence of sexism and speaks out against the societal qualms that affect women. She denounces the unfair criteria by which women are unjustly judged by. A political strategy that would possibly increase her chances of winning may include the compromises she has made regarding her struggles as a woman succeeding in American politics. Fourth-wave feminism can be seen as a positive thing for all women and men because it will allow society to progress because ignorant, traditional thoughts will be see as a thing of the past. Hillary has made her mark in the political field and academia, but she has the opportunity to cement her name in feminist lore.

People say that Hillary is running for office for selfish reasons. They have a point in a sense, if they are looking at one side of the spectrum. With everything against her, Hillary has found a way to quell negativity and achieve great things in her life. Getting married did not stop her, having a child did not stop her, and attempting to become the first female president in U.S. history will not stop her from achieving the greatest honor of all, recognition. At this point in her life, Hillary has achieved so much and probably more so than anyone would imagine. Her success is a tribute to her hard work, principles, and most importantly her desire to be different. If Hillary decides to quit campaigning for whatever reason, she not only hurts herself, but she jeopardizes every possible female candidate in the future. She realizes she must put forth more effort than Obama to win the nomination, thus making her that much of a formidable candidate. Her ideals have separated her from other women, thus she has achieved more than most other women. Mundy states it best, “In other words, we can continue to see Hillary Clinton not only as a feminist but as symbolic of the contemporary women's movement itself (Mundy, 7).” Therefore; women can achieve anything a man can. 100 years ago men said a woman did not deserve to be in office, and now 100 years later there is a strong possibility of a woman sitting in the Oval Office, how times have changed and so will this world.

No comments: