Australia had its first female Prime Minister in 2010. Britain has just acquired their second female Prime Minister Theresa May. And it looks likely that the United States may elect its first female President in Hilary Clinton.
Are these iconic moments to be treasured?
On the one hand yes. For those suffragettes who battled so hard to gain women the vote; to those who fought to have women represent us in parliament these are moments to celebrate.
But does having a female as leader of your nation really help women?
Well we all know that it didn’t with Maggie Thatcher. But then she was a right-wing neo-conservative.
Julia Gillard did not do a lot for women either here in Australia.
“That same day she made her (famous misogyny) speech the government was cutting access to the Single Parenting Payment and forcing more single mothers onto the dole, substantially cutting their income.” Judy McVey
And her continuation of the Northern Territory Intervention policy and practice was appalling and racist.
She also continued with the off-shore refugee policy which continues to lock up vulnerable women and children in inhumane off-shore facilities.
And she supported sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and the devastation on innocent people in those countries.
But then she was better than the alternative, Tony Abbott.
As the United States moves toward their presidential elections much has been written about whether voting for Hilary Clinton is a step forward for feminism.
Looking at Ms. Clinton’s international policies and her support of American aggression on other countries is perhaps enough for radical feminists to recognise that a vote for Hilary Clinton is not a vote for women’s rights. As Kelly Vee writes:
“As a Senator, Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War, and in 2008, defended her vote, saying, “I believe in coercive diplomacy.”
“As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s record is horrific. Clinton aggressively pursued regime changes in Libya and Syria, leading to the creation of ISIS, war in Mali, and the strengthening of terrorist group Boko Haram.”
The fact is that in Western countries such as Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States voting does little to challenge patriarchal capitalism. The women who are part of the major political parties are part of the patriarchal capitalist system. They will continue with their imperialist policies which destroy women’s lives. Radical feminism is about the destruction of patriarchal capitalism. Supporting the likes of Hilary Clinton is only supporting the continuation of it.
But don’t get me wrong. I abhor the misogyny that is inherent in many of the attacks on women leaders. Julia Gillard was the target of dreadful misogyny that was both violent and aggressive
And it is up to feminists to rally against such misogyny.
It is also apparent that what we know about our so-called democracies is that we really have very little choice.*
It is understandable that in our limited choices we sometimes vote for the lesser of 2 evils – and having Donald Trump as President of the United States is quite a horrifying thought.
But in recognising that a vote for Hilary Clinton is really a vote against a worst evil, let us not go down the path of assuming that her imperialist policies will not harm many women, both internally and internationally.
“Violence and imperialism do not liberate women. External force and rampant destruction do not liberate women. Hillary Clinton’s incessant war mongering and disregard for the basic human rights of non-Americans do not liberate women. Women liberate themselves when they take control over their lives and their futures against all odds. Kurdish women defending their families from ISIS and US airstrikes are feminist heroes. Hillary Clinton is a violent oppressor. Know the difference.” Kelly Vee
*In Australia we have the advantage of preferential voting. Thus I voted for the Greens rather than Julia Gillard and Labor Party. Preferential voting means that my vote was not wasted. There is an alternative for those in the United States, as outlined in this article about voting for alternatives to the two major parties in safe seats.