Before Florida’s Female Vote Comes the New Hampshire Primary
This week, Bernie Sanders won the popular vote in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Sanders got the majority of the millennial vote, which gave him the edge over Hillary Clinton. Not only that, he got the majority of the female millennial vote. This came as no surprise to most: CNN took a poll just days before that showed just how much of the female millennial vote the Sanders campaign was to anticipate in NH.
These statistics obviously came as no surprise to 2nd wave feminists Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright. Both of these famous feminists were called out this week by 4th wave feminists who found their comments degrading, offensive, and off base. It all started with an interview Steinem did on Bill Mahar in which she said that the young female vote is with Sanders because “that’s where the boys are.” The comment has been taken a little bit out of context in a lot of the hostile articles I’ve seen lately, but one fact remains: it was belittling to hear a famous feminist think so little of young feminists, and heartbreaking that she’d jump to that conclusion instead of critically thinking about why young women might be voting for Sanders.
Enter the 4th Wave Feminists
In response, black feminists took to social media to explain HRC’s lack of intersectionality, which is the exact critical thought Steinem was lacking in her criticism.
Young feminists were already incensed by Steinem’s comments (for which she apologized), so it really didn’t help when Albright said women who don’t help each other “have a special place in hell.” While she didn’t directly say that women who don’t vote for HRC will go to hell, there’s pretty much no other way to interpret her statement. So now, if young women vote for Bernie Sanders, not only are they vapid, dick chasers, (forget lesbian feminists, by the way) but they’re also worthy of burning in hell. Well, then.
Young feminists have a problem with HRC because she represents more of the same establishment politics (as Sanders would say). Take it from Steinem herself: in the same breath as her slanderous comments about young female Sanders supporters, she also discussed that women are mad about what’s happening to them in their lives, even citing the student loan debt crisis that’s impacting a massive amount of female millennials. To many young women, a vote for Sanders is a vote against outrageously priced education and incredibly high interest rates on their loans–and therefore a vote for their careers, families, and livelihood.
Enter Florida Female Voters
What does this specifically mean for Florida’s female vote, though? Well, pretty much all of Sanders’ platform will benefit women in Florida. As president, his stance on wealth inequality, women’s rights, racial justice, LGBT equality, socialized medicine, and disability rights could positively impact thousands of Floridian women and their families.
When it comes to wealth inequality, Florida ranks among the most inequitable states in the union. “In Florida, there was average real income growth of 3.4 percent from 2009 to 2012, but the top 1 percent grew income by 39.5 percent, while the bottom 99 percent experienced negative growth of 7.1 percent.” The article went on to site low wages as one of the reasons for this wage inflation gap. For women, that gap is exponential because white women only make .84 cents to a man’s dollar. And it worsens for Florida’s women of color: Hispanic women only make .60 cents to a white man’s dollar. Poverty also hits Floridian women particularly hard, especially in black communities where 30.3% of women live in poverty.
Health care is another major concern for women in Florida. Overall, healthcare is hard for Floridian’s to access. The state ranks 46th in the nation. In fact, 23% of women in the state of Florida are uninsured. For women, this means limited access to obstetric and gynecological care. These limitations prevent women from getting important cancer screenings and basic reproductive health checkups. When expectant mothers can’t get the care they need, they’re at risk for complications and health concerns that increase the potential for infant mortality.
What’s more, Florida places unconstitutional conditions on women seeking abortions, including a forced medical ultrasound (sometimes transvaginal). Florida’s female vote comes from democratic women who understand that a woman’s right to chose must be protected if women are to continue to make social advancements. In this regard, Hillary Clinton is not the only democratic candidate to vote in favor of women’s rights time and again. In fact, Sanders’ voting record on women’s issues is nearly impeccable. He was a co-sponsor on the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, and the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interferance Act of 2014. His deep investment in these issues will hopefully earn him Florida’s female vote.
Of course, Florida’s female vote should be for an intersectional candidate. Sanders outshines any candidate, Republican or Democrat, in his dedication to racial justice. Hell, he’s the only candidate who’ll even admit there’s institutional racism, and that includes HRC. Additionally, of all the candidates, he’s the most deeply committed to abolishing for-profit prisons, so much so that he’s introduced a piece of legislation to do just that. One in four black males in the U.S. could expect to spend time in prison, and this number doesn’t get much better for black women in Florida.
Exit Hillary Clinton
These are just a few reasons why Florida’s female vote should go to Bernie Sanders. It’s not because “that’s where the boys are,” like Gloria Steinem suggested, or because we don’t want to support other women, like Madeleine Albright wants to believe. It’s because Bernie’s voting record and commitment to the people’s issues show that he’s going to fight harder for women because he’s going to fight harder for everyone. Go to his website, and see for yourself. There’s not one marginalized person who’s not going to benefit from his policies. And unless you’re in the top 1%, you probably need someone to fight for you just as much as I do.
What’s funny is I wrote a piece months ago criticizing the Democratic Party because of an incident with Black Lives Matter activists at a Bernie Sanders rally. To be honest, the crowd’s reactions initially turned me off from being a Bernie supporter, and initially made me critical of his campaign. But his reactions to questions about racial justice and his open exchanges with activists in the movement have made me more apt to support Sanders. And that’s just the point: the way a candidate reacts to criticism about his behavior regarding the people’s wants says a lot about him or her.
So far in this election, I haven’t liked how HRC has handled any of the criticism she’s received from social justice advocates. She has parroted a lot of what Bernie has been saying, but her voting record doesn’t support all her promises. I also don’t like that she’s got famous 2nd wave feminists trying to tell young women how to vote. As if they’re petulant children who don’t know how their parents struggled to get them where they are now. Well, I’ve got news: they know damn well how hard the struggle for survival is, because they’re in one of their own. The most courageous and daring of the bunch know that of the two Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders is the most deserving of Florida’s female vote. And the most intersectionally feminist of the group know that genitals don’t make you a feminist; actions and beliefs do.