Feminism 101: Ask Us Anything

feminism your way
By Avital Norman Nathman  Published on 08/12/2016 at 9:35 AM EST

We’re starting something new here at Grok Nation: a regular column where you can ask a diverse pool of feminists anything you want. That’s right. ANYTHING. We aim to make feminism accessible, understandable, and of course, interesting. We’ll be talking about everything from the political to the personal, and everything in between.

One thing you might notice is that despite identifying as feminists, the folks who answer these questions won’t always agree! Feminism doesn’t automatically mean one way and one way only. At its best, it means providing a seat at the table for folks — and in particular oppressed and marginalized people — to share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

Today’s topic: Hillary Clinton.

What does it mean to you to see Hillary Clinton become the first woman to accept the Presidential nomination for the Democratic Party?

Everything.” — Caissie St. Onge

I’m thrilled that Hillary Clinton is the nominee. I celebrated her victory with women I love. But this morning on my run, I still felt afraid of getting raped. At work, my promotion is still mysteriously stalled as it winds its way to the white male decision makers. There is still an enormous amount of work to do to keep women’s bodies safe and their earnings equal to men.” — Christie Tate

When I was small, Jesse Jackson ran for president, and all the grownups around me were sure his blackness would keep him out. It became a joke in my house that I could be the first biracial woman president one day. It was funny because it could never happen, much like another common phrase from my younger days, ‘When monkeys fly out of so and so’s butt.’

Even though I didn’t vote for her in the primary, seeing Hillary get the nomination felt monumental in the way that seeing Obama get the nomination did for me as a biracial American.

28 years later, what was once a joke, a silly fantasy that was only funny because it would never happen, is reality. People who look like me can be President now. Imaginary winged primates are finally escaping from human anuses everywhere.

And even though she wasn’t my candidate, you best believe I cried.” — Jessica Sutherland

It means we have our Liberal Sarah Palin, an identity politics pick. Like the difference between the parties, Hillary Clinton, compared to Sarah Palin, is more rational, capable, and an all-around better politician. But at the end of the day, the DNC f*cked the poor, f*cked the young, f*cked minorities, and f*cked the country. We don’t have 20 years to come up through party infrastructure to make incremental positive change for people who are kinda doing okay but starting to get scared about job security or healthcare or basic equality. A lot of us are going to die before that. Girls like me, we can’t wait for Hillary Clinton to decide it’s politically safe to unequivocally back trans rights instantly, in every context. We’re not fighting to hold onto what we have. We’re fighting to have anything to hold onto at all.

So, Democratic Party, you can keep your symbolic bullshit establishment feelgood candidate, just like you can keep your sanctimonious authoritarian vomit-stream about how if I don’t vote for Hillary, I’m voting for Trump. You know who splits votes? It’s not third parties. It’s weak candidates that not enough people feel good about, or even okay with getting behind.” — Seranine Elliot

It meant to me that my seven-year-old daughter will perhaps be witness to a historical event — the first female president.” — Estelle Erasmus

As a feminist, I’m delighted to see a woman win the presidential nomination of a major party and be a genuine contender for the role. I’m especially thrilled for all the girls who’ll actually be able to picture themselves in that role in the future. Hillary Clinton is such a solid choice because of her strong track record in politics, and substantial experience both domestically and internationally.

I do hold some deep reservations about Mrs. Clinton given her ‘super predators’ comments, and her active support of her husband’s policies that disenfranchised black Americans in particular. I’m hopeful that she will be the next president and that she’ll allow the criticisms to inform her tenure, and I remain excited that this will be the US’s first female president.” — Asha Rajan

Yes, it’s great to see a woman nominated for president, but it always depends on what woman. I would not have been happy to see Sarah Palin nominated, because I can’t stand her politics. Hillary is complicated in that sense, particularly with all the rhetoric and investigations surrounding her. How does one make head or tail of it?

From what I’ve seen and read, Hillary is more honest than most politicians, Democrat or Republican. She has a solid record related to women’s rights, although not in all areas. She’s also done some really questionable things.

In my heart of hearts, even though I can’t prove it, I believe the vitriol aimed at her too often comes from men who simply cannot imagine a woman leading them. Thus, she is scrutinized, criticized and investigated more than any man would be.At base, though, I think Hillary’s nomination is a step forward.” — Leigh Shulman

My daughters are two and four. They will see a woman presidential candidate before they’ll see men as our only choices for the job. They were born with a black president and now they see a highly qualified and confident woman going for the country’s highest office. How incredible that is, compared to my own childhood of white guys in charge.” — Meredith Counts

It means America is catching up! So many other nations have already had at least one female leader that it seems odd (and a little backward) that we’ve only made it as far as getting one nominated by a major party. We can easily do better, and we should.” — Laura Lucas

I didn’t vote for Hillary in 2008; I was an early and ardent Obama fan. But I had always admired her, and when it became clear she would run again, I was eager for the chance to vote for her. I was blindsided by the misogyny that her candidacy stirred up. I expected all kinds of sexist bullshit from the GOP, but  I was truly shocked to see fellow lefties eviscerating her — often  for the same things they were happy to tolerate in Joe Biden or Barack Obama or even Bernie Sanders — and doing so in deeply gendered language. Every time I saw a progressive call her a c**t, I gave her campaign another five bucks. I am sorry to report that it added up to a lot of dough. The longer it went on, the more I realized just how profoundly we need a female figurehead. We need someone to show us all what a woman in power looks like so we can all get used to it and move forward.

It goes deeper than that for me, though. I look at the women around me, the women I love. My teenage daughter faced near shunning in her high school for openly supporting Hillary amidst a sea of Feel the Bern shirts. I know plenty of grown women who kept their Hillary support under wraps; her bravery wows me. My grandmother, born before women had the right to vote, was downright radical in her day (and would probably still be considered so today). I know she would have walked through fire to campaign for Hillary. Meanwhile, my mom, who was a devoted Hillary backer in 2008, died last fall. How I wish she were alive to see this moment — and to know that I, and her two granddaughters, would be standing with her, cheering just as loudly. I’ve never felt it more acutely: The personal IS political.” — Naomi Shulman

It’s great to have a woman land the Presidential nomination. However, it means that ONE woman is a candidate for the time being. If millions of Americans want to support a female nominee, we need more than one option.” — Danielle Corcione

Hillary’s existence, her success, will change the world for my daughter and millions of other little girls who will grow up seeing a female President. Maybe I’m greedy, but I can’t help wanting more. I’d like to want to vote for the first female President of the United States. I’d like to do so proudly and not because of a barrier broken but because I was just proud to have voted for her. But I won’t be proud. I won’t be proud to vote for her or to volunteer for her for the next few months. I will do both as an act of patriotism, in service to preserving the Republic.

Hillary’s rise and run is proof that a woman can play the game of politics just as well as, and in many cases much better than, a man. That isn’t high praise. It isn’t any praise at all. As a black woman, from Charleston, SC I have felt pandered to, offended by, ignored, dismissed and taken for granted by Hillary, ‘Back to the issues’ Clinton. And now that she is the nominee I’m bombarded by articles and posts telling me what a great step this is for women in our country. But I can’t help thinking that those writers mean white women. I can’t help thinking my daughter deserves better.

* Back to the issues is what she said after she had a pair of black protesters kicked out of her fundraiser in Charleston.” — Graeme Seabrook

“I never had political aspirations. I never wanted to be in the spotlight as Hillary was, either as First Lady or as a spouse struggling with her husband’s infidelity and deception, or as a Senator or as a Presidential candidate. I knew Hillary’s nomination would be historic, but didn’t think it would affect me emotionally. But because the opposition is so preposterous, because she’s SO qualified, because she’s been so clear on this as a goal for so long, because she has risen from the ashes of scandal stronger and even more electable, and because I now have nieces whose dreams may lean more toward the political than their aunt’s did, I cried my eyes out. It is the promise of a changed picture, that anyone – who wants to – can set her or his sights on this office. Again, why you’d want to, I have no idea. But the importance of this moment? There’s no question – it’s a turning point.” – Esther Kustanowitz

And Mayim’s take:

It means literally everything women have fought for since the Garden of Eden. Whether you like her or not, the other 50% of the population has made an historic shift. She is the One, she is the It Girl and she is Every Woman. She is the woman you show to your daughters and, yes, to your sons to say: this is the woman who made history. And forgive my French: it’s about f’ing time. What is also means is that she is not only the more qualified candidate, but she is an exceptionally qualified candidate by any standard of sex, gender, or political proclivity. She is not a criminal, she is not the Devil; she is a politician just like all politicians are: full of complexity, nuance, and a mountain of crap she had to conquer to get where she is. People need to simmer down and stop holding her to a standard they have never held men politicians to. We’ve seen far weaker and more corrupt candidates. This means everything.” — Mayim Bialik


Feminism 101 is curated by Grok Nation contributor Avital Norman Nathman. Send any and all Feminism 101 questions to Avital at

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