In light of Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination as the first female presidential nominee of a major American political party, it is important to reflect on what Feminism truly means in modern society. Is it an archetype of principles that someone like Hillary used to fortify a path toward success? We assume that the free-thinking, industrial-paced, technologically-driven societies that we live in automatically impart the ethics of equality.
Although women revolutionaries have achieved much in just the past 30 years alone, it has often been done by fighting the remnants of traditionalist structures deeply embedded in communities all over the world. Hillary Clinton has only redefined the symbol of women in American politics. This is not to take away from the historical precedence of Hillary as the Democratic nominee, but as a means to contemplate how feminist critiques of social and political conventions can be used to impart holistic gains for women’s status in representing power in society.
I will make a few short points dissecting Modernist approaches to equality and Feminism in the political sphere.
First a quick overview of how Modernism can be defined. Our most basic understanding is that which rejects stagnation in art, science, and social thought. Modernism may engender the advancement of rationality as an objective and serve to society the methods that propel new achievements.
As for Feminism, there are many different philosophical ideas about the goals, ideals, and visions that make up how it is looked at as a movement, but the most simple way to look at it here is the promotion of equal rights for women in aspects of life that propagate unfairness, discrimination, and oppression.
Feminism In a Mad Modern World: Is Modern Society Feminist?
Feminists work to defend their interests by exposing the prism through which Modernists view women. Feminists seek to challenge Modernists on their broad assumption that tradition and old ways of thinking are the main cause of female inequality in society.
Feminists see a lack of recognition in the gender aspects of power. There is a contention that women play vital roles in the international sphere yet are hidden behind the realm of submission. A secretary for a diplomat is not seen as a critical player and remains on the periphery because the role of secondary positions of power (helper-status) have been viewed as an appropriate starting point for women in the working world. The Modernist project may have helped to propel women to enter the workforce but it will take concerted appeals within Feminist thinking to widen the opportunities for women to represent positions of power.
To a Modernist, the secretary has done well for herself by breaking the bonds of gender stereotypes by engendering upon a utility driven role in the workforce, but Feminists view this role as conforming to a modern form of gender bias. They would view the administrative position as forming the basis of new age traditionalist feminine etiquette. In turn this allows the formation of a glass ceiling. The woman is allowed the privilege of a professional career but not the right to become a critical player in the echelons of ultimate authority.
Some Feminists argue that if women want to be successful they must resort to parading a more masculine version of themselves. In this instance the assumption of the composition of women is reflected in categorizing the universally understood traits of women as automatically of lesser quality than that of men. Since power as been dominated by the persuasion of men, women need to stay within man made boundaries in order to be seen as a valid contributor.
The Modernist project does not give special protection to the rights of women. The evolution of science and technology does not grant that the principle of equality will be upheld by a moral or constitutional contract. Feminists feel they are forced to live in a world where the innovation of man’s mind leads to the renovation of women’s conduct.
The Feminist project is aware of Modernists standing politically correct by sympathizing with Feminist causes that inadvertently diminishes the struggle against unequal representation. Is having a mouthpiece the measure for true gain in society? Social awareness is but only one step in dismantling gender bias. Exercises in poetic justice do not produce substantial alteration in the modes of conduct towards women in the professional arena. Sympathy for the perceived weaknesses of women’s emotional intelligence may invert the evolution of women in society by propagating misconceptions about the relative gains made by women in position of power. Feminists want to eradicate society’s conviction that women are plagued with emotional disadvantages and must be ‘managed’ in ways different than that of men.
Men should be careful not to take hold of Feminist gains by directing an agenda that defines women’s goals without employing a concerted effort to recognize what women are actually saying. Gender roles in the workspace are still commonly used by men to appropriate the usage of the male image as the sole arbitrator of leadership. What Feminists don’t want is to be tied down to the image of a male-oriented figurehead in order to find success in leadership roles. To be ‘more like a man’ in order to succeed is to embody a set of disingenuous gains made by women playing by the rules of a man’s world.
Feminists work to display the disparities of a newly defined order understood by Modernists as indicative of the void women play in authoritative positions throughout the social and economic chain. Modernism alone is not conducive towards imparting holistic equality for women where tradition imparts discrimination. We must push deeper to understand why the female gender has been constructed in a way to detach women from roles of authority in the realm of social organization.
Hillary Clinton and Feminist Thought
Where does this leave us concerning the political rise of Hillary Clinton? Most young women in Generation Y (for classification purposes let’s say those born in the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s) have been underwhelmed by the Clinton persona and have deep attachments to the grassroots Progressive movement currently led by Bernie Sanders. They view gender inequality as the outcome of an older generation’s acceptance of traditional gender roles and tend to view Hillary as representing an antiquated form of Feminism.
There is a general acknowledgement of her having access to powerful circles during Bill Clinton’s presidency that helped her build future bridges to success in her own quest for political prowess. Was it ‘the man’ who made Hillary? Or did a grown-up modern society take the time to harness a collective acceptance of a woman as duly capable of a powerful leadership role? Feminism may be about the right to choose, but let us remember that the ability to choose did not come as a natural evolution in social development. It took harnessing a vision and setting principles in motion to keep the wheel of generational attitudes conducive for continuous change in how gender is perceived.
Modernity is a concept that is fought for and Feminism has been a tool for harnessing collective change to what is considered old systems of gender organization. Hillary may only be an emblem of Feminist achievements, but one in which female success can help redefine how society associates gender and power.