Society Magazine

Why I’m Happy Clinton and Fiorina Are Both Running for President

Posted on the 07 July 2015 by Juliez
Why I’m Happy Clinton and Fiorina Are Both Running for President

Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton

It’s clear that women are severely underrepresented in U.S. politics: Currently, only 20% of the seats in Congress, and 25% of the seats in state legislators are held by women. The fact that Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina are both running for their respective parties’ presidential nominations, therefore, is an undeniably important step towards parity. No matter the results of their efforts, Clinton and Fiorina are positively impacting countless young girls across the country just by running.

The gender disparity in our country’s political representation starts early, according to one American University study, with an “ambition gap.” The study found that young girls are less likely to consider running for office or believe that they can based on a number of factors, including parents being more likely to socialize their sons to consider politics and less likely to expose their daughters to political careers or encourage them to run. This disparity, therefore, is as much a reflection of the current environment as it is a self-propagating cycle of lack of encouragement to pursue political careers and exposure to the field. The same incumbents (mostly old white guys) get re-elected, and continue representing the same groups (mostly old white guys).

The media doesn’t help by subjecting candidates to intense, highly gendered scrutiny. Female candidates are called out for trivial stuff like nail polish and pantsuits and their opposing races as “cat fights.” Coverage that promotes these harmful stereotypes and depicts women as especially oppositional are truly damaging. Rather than stereotype Clinton and Fiorina or pit them against each other, we should embrace the fact that there’s not a single “woman-centric” candidate. In fact, discussions I’ve had with other young women about women in politics have revealed that we all had problems with both candidates. We were able to look past relating to their gender and truly question their politics.

And it’s also crucial to point out that Clinton and Fiorina don’t represent all women. While they may both talk about making great strides for all women in this country, they undeniably represent and have benefited from a particular brand of white, corporate, feminism. The feminist movement — as well as this country in general — must consider the voices of women who aren’t usually included in this historically exclusive world, and encouraging women from these marginalized groups to run for political offices is a crucial component of that.

However, if better political representation starts with Clinton and Fiorina for now, then so be it. Hopefully, their campaigns will inspire and empower the next generation of women to run for office.

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