By Marcelle Meyer
In April of last year, I wrote an article titled “Candidates More than Just a Face,” in which I expressed my frustrations about being told to vote for Hillary Clinton because “we need a woman in the White House.” I argued that this should not be a positive or negative attribute of candidates, for it assumes that all women have the same interests and issues that they would like to see represented. I was wrong.
I am unashamed to admit, as this election has progressed, that I am willing to cast my ballot based on gender. Of course, if a candidate disagrees with me on most issues or does not have a good platform, I would not vote based solely on gender. However, it should be a factor because gender does matter. Saying that all candidates are the same, regardless of gender, denies years of oppression and unbroken glass ceilings. It suggests that, now that we are technically equal under the law, sexism does not and has never existed. It ignores important qualifications that only a female candidate could have.
I don’t just want a woman in the White House. I want someone who has been cat-called on the street and felt that she couldn’t do anything about it. I want someone who has had her life goals questioned because of her gender. I want someone who understands that women’s issues extend beyond paid maternity leave and access to birth control. I want someone who understands that sexual assault is not an issue that we can put off addressing and that laws saying that women are equal do not mean that women are treated equally.
Sexism was a major issue in this election as more and more women come forward with allegations against Donald Trump, along with a number of his statements that have offended women across the country. I am, in some ways, glad that this has forced society to internalize the fact that sexist behavior in the office, home and other social settings is not uncommon or an exception to the rule. While some were appalled at the statements made in the video released of Trump and Billy Bush, many women came forward to say that this behavior is something that they see frequently.
However, Trump’s sexism is not what changed my mind. Put against any other Republican nominee, or even against any Democratic candidate, I still considered gender to be at least one factor in my vote. This is because, no matter what a male candidate’s platform is, he does not personally understand what women experience daily. There are certain issues that are only understood by the groups that they affect, and this is why we should be seeking to understand, not advise, minority groups in their struggle for justice and representation. Just as I would never expect to be able to understand the perspective of people of color, I would also never expect a male candidate to be able to understand the inequalities I have witnessed and experienced.
I supported Hillary Clinton for many reasons. One of those reasons is because she is a woman. And I do not believe there is anything wrong with that.