Women who support Bernie Sanders have been called to reconcile this choice with their feminist beliefs and credentials, to ourselves or others or both.
Last month, after some unfortunate remarks about female Bernie Sanders supporters by Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem, the discussion ramped up. When having a woman president is within reach at long last, could women who are supporting the old white guy possibly be real feminists?
We heard two conflicting messages from those who support Hillary—of course they weren’t voting for her just because she’s a woman (what an insulting suggestion!), but also, how could we who feel the Bern not be supporting the woman?
I found myself asking repeatedly: “Well, which is it? Are you saying that any self-respecting feminist must back the female candidate, regardless of other factors, or not?”
After the Albright and Steinem clusterf*ck, I took the opportunity to re-examine whether my choice of candidates is aligned with my feminist principles…
At the beginning of this campaign, I was conflicted. I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008. I liked Obama, but I felt that all else being equal, I wanted the woman. This time around, I don’t feel all else is equal—I strongly believe Bernie Sanders is the president we need.
Still, a part of me felt sad that I wouldn’t be voting for Hillary in this primary. That inner conflict is quickly evaporating as I learn more about the histories of each candidate, observe how each is conducting themselves during the campaign, and consider how their proposed policies are likely to impact women’s lives.
I determined there is no conflict between my staunch feminist beliefs and my support for Bernie because of: a) his stellar record on issues affecting women and families, and b) my belief that his proposed policies will do more to better the lives of women and other oppressed groups than his opponent’s.
That was enough for me, and yet—I knew there was even more to it if I could just put a finger on it.
Fast forward to March 8th, International Women’s Day. I looked for an article to post on my Facebook page to celebrate the day. I wanted to shout out to my sister women and take it beyond gender by celebrating both women and men who honor the Sacred Feminine in all of us. While I was looking through articles, for that half hour at least, I wasn’t thinking about politics.
Then I found something that brought it all home. In this article about the Sacred Feminine, the author talks about how this manifests in different realms. Here’s what she says about the political realm:
“In the political dimension, [the Sacred Feminine] means using the authority of power to serve the greater good, to protect and serve life, not for domination, greed and self-interest. It means to protect the common wealth of planetary resources–such as water, food, air, soil, energy—and share for the greatest good of all, rather than hoarding, exploiting and commoditizing them.”
I read that and immediately thought: “That’s Bernie Sanders.”
Think about each candidate’s record and positions, particularly on correct placement of power and political influence (moneyed interests versus the people), the death penalty, foreign policy and protecting the environment. Let’s say you did a blind study with people who had no prior familiarity with either candidate and didn’t know their genders.
Imagine you presented them with detailed information on their records and everything they have said about these issues, then asked them to choose which candidate was better aligned with the above description of the Divine Feminine in the political realm. Which do you think they would choose?
So, there it is—the feminist in me supports Bernie, because of his record and proposed policies on issues affecting women and families, and because of my beliefs about the kind of leadership that will improve women’s lives the most.
And on spiritual level, I now realize, my support for him is fully aligned with my feminist principles because his politics completely embody the political aspects of the Divine Feminine.
No wonder so many feminists are feeling the Bern!
Author: Camille Williams
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore