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Rejecting Bourgeois Feminism

Right on cue, Jessica Valenti has published an article in defense of voting for Hillary Clinton???a vapid, intensely disingenuous piece that she can now add to a growing collection. Valenti argues that the election of a female president would ?benefit women?, and that criticism stems from what she calls Clinton?s ?unabashed embrace of women?s issues?, and those who take issue with Clinton being a woman. I am not arguing that Valenti is unintentionally misleading her readers but that this is deliberate and formulaic; she is following the unoriginal pattern already mastered by others like Amanda Marcotte and Sady Doyle???they omit in order to misrepresent.

Valenti gives women of color a one sentence mention, despite acknowledging that their representation in politics is abysmal, and her glowing review of Clinton as boldly embracing women?s issue sends readers to a link where Valenti discusses Clinton and her support of Planned Parenthood.

Bourgeois feminists with platforms like Valenti are deliberately vague, mentioning Clinton?s policies as little as possible, and oftentimes not at all.

Their works in defense of Clinton hinge on emotion and a prospective future that has no basis in reality, especially when one examines her history as Secretary of State. Their arguments are bolstered by superficial social justice performances and liberal neologisms, wherein policy is simply an aside rather than the very heart of the matter. When faced with policy issues their critics are often told that Clinton is ?problematic?, that she ?has some issues?, or something similar. They refuse to engage with material concerns, reject internationalism almost outright, and rummage through a laundry list of accusations against ?Berniebros? even when vocal detractors are women. Setting up the Berniebro straw-man has become their knee-jerk response to any critique, no matter how tempered and thorough?if they can?t formulate any kind of refutation they fall back on a ritual: ignore critics and tweet something against ?bros? to thousands of followers who will laugh?and?throw forward some?support.

Sady Doyle offers us the most explicit example?her timeline reads like one open-ended exchange with a single straw-man, and her example of Hillary Clinton putting women’s issues on the table’ is the same as Valenti’s: Planned Parenthood. While unequivocal support of programs offered by Planned Parenthood, such as family planning and youth education, is undoubtedly a necessity, the idea that this is where women’s issues begin and end erases scores of women and ignores as many problems.

Clinton’s acceptance of campaign donations from private prison lobbyists, one of which “is also a registered lobbyist for the Geo Group, a company that operates a number of jails, including immigrant detention centers, for profit”, is rarely discussed as being harmful to women. According to a report by The Sentencing Project (2013), “the rate of increase of women continued to outpace that of men, as it has for several decades. From 2000 to 2009 the number of women incarcerated in state or federal prisons rose by 21.6%, compared to a 15.6% increase for men.” The rate of growth of women in prison has climbed 646% from 1980 to 2010, compared to a 419% increase for men, and in 2010 there were 112,000 women in state and federal prison and 205,000 women overall in prison or jail.?


The prison-industrial complex has grown exceedingly powerful thanks to the Clinton dynasty, and the alarming reception prison lobbyists received from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and the silence of certain high-platform feminists in response, underlines the type of women they find worthy of their brand of feminism.

In line with mainstream liberal feminist’s rejection of internationalism is their position on Hillary’s ‘send them back‘ immigration policy. During an interview with Christiane Amanpour, the former Secretary of State said that unaccompanied minors, many of whom are fleeing unimaginable violence, should be “sent back”. “We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay,” she said. In late October of last year women imprisoned at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas, went on hunger strike, protesting neglect, bail, and their detainment. Clinton’s position on immigration has echoed that of the Obama administration, which can now boast of deporting over 2 million people since Obama took office. Hector Luis Alamo, of LatinoRebels, has called Clinton (when compared to O’Malley and Sanders) “worse for Latinos and Latin Americans alike”. When discussing Plan Colombia, Clinton points out US ‘effectiveness’, claiming that after years it is now a success story. In response, Alamo writes:

?It took a number of years? is how Hillary?describes a period of unbridled violence and human rights abuses committed by the U.S.-sponsored Colombian government and right-wing paramilitary groups. The drastic increase of U.S. funding for Colombia?s security forces beginning in 2000 allowed an already repressive government to carry out even more atrocities.

Women of color are props to bourgeois feminists, and they routinely attempt to patronize them or guilt them into voting for Clinton. ?She has the interest of all women in mind?, they?ll say. ?She has her issues, but would you rather a Republican president take away our bodily autonomy??. Again, they fall back on duplicitous fear-mongering and vagueness in order to mitigate the damage?which so often accompanies such uninspiring analysis. They aren?t looking for women to dismantle an oppressive system but to join it, to become a part of the establishment class. This isn?t liberatory political?consciousness,?but?the?politics?of superficial preservation for?those?at?the?top.

One of the most quoted statements made by Hillary Clinton is from the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, where she remarks that ?women?s rights are human rights?, and yet her support of even more muscular foreign policy emphasizes, among other things, a flagrant discrepancy. Humanitarian imperialism, or the use of human rights to sell war and occupation, is a fundamental portion of Clinton’s foreign policy. In March 2015 it was reported that Saudi Arabia would receive nearly $30 billion worth of advanced fighter jets??a sale that was allegedly necessitated and referred to as “a top priority” by Hillary Clinton, personally. To call these actions sanctimonious would be an understatement. Time and time again, Clinton has been at the forefront of the greater US drive for war and intervention, from Iraq to Afghanistan, and beyond. And so, if women’s rights are human rights then why further the military industrial complex, whose greatest victims both during and after periods of war are women??

Whether it?s an abhorrent immigrant policy, her support of the Patriot Act, criticism of universal healthcare options, or unashamed hawkishness, Hillary Clinton may be a candidate for bourgeois feminists like Valenti, but whether she is for the rest of us is pretty clear.

So, I ask again: Which women is Valenti talking about?


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