As a millennial with millennial friends, my Facebook news feed is filled with one of two things: the newest rooftop beer garden to grace our city’s (Philadelphia) presence or Bernie Sanders posts.
It’s true, many of us millennials are liberal leaning. Interestingly, as “liberal” as we are, many of us do not identify as feminists. In fact, most social media feeds I read are inundated with posts like this, suggesting that women who vote for Hillary because she is female, is anti-feminist.
From the Warby Parkers we buy, to our obsession with Toms shoes, millennials have an innate sense of equality. Can you blame us? Our parents lived through the Sexual Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement and the resurgence of feminism. They raised us to believe in the principles of freedom and equality. They taught us we are capable of doing anything. We are as unique as snowflakes and as special as rainbows.
This may explain the paradox of how millennials can be both left leaning and prefer not to be labeled as feminists. As a result, some of my millennial friends will rant and rave that voting for Hillary because she is a woman is somehow undemocratic, and ironically, anti-feminist.
Unfortunately, pay inequity is still very real. Women do not have maternity leave (indeed, paternity leave is also not widely accepted). And we are told that our bodies are not our own. Donald Trump’s most recent statements are appalling.
Regardless if you agree or disagree with Hillary Clinton, we must acknowledge that when we pursue this line of argumentation, we are placing more scrutiny on Hillary (or Carly, when she was in the race) that is not placed on her male counterparts. Namely, no one suggests that millennials are voting for Bernie because he is a white male. Nor do they care that his hair is disheveled, or if they do – it is somehow a strength. After all, there is no time for pomade when starting a political revolution. Most importantly, it drives the conversation away from concrete policy debate.
Millennials making this argument seem to have an underlying, perhaps even subconscious assumption: we are beyond feminism. Millennials say we are not feminists but we believe in equality for all sexes, it denies that women still have progress to make to be on even playing field.
Few of my millennial friends would say “All lives matter.” Yet, most of them would say something like what Taylor Swift said: “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls.”
Other assumptions made include: Bernie or Trump supporters do not express gender preferences. Voting based on gender is undemocratic. This point is most frustrating.
Descriptive representation, or the idea that someone who looks like me can best represent me, is not new. In fact, a cursory read off “The Notes of Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787” (i.e. The Constitutional Convention) or “The Federalist Papers” show the concept of descriptive representation has come up time and again. I’m not suggesting that descriptive representation works. I’m also not suggesting that someone who looks differently than me cannot represent me.
If millennials truly believe in equality, we need to stop criticizing women for voting for Hillary because she has a uterus. Descriptive representation (for better or worse) is a legitimate position to hold. Liberals and left-leaning millennials need to have conversations about policies that move the needle for all people, including women.
After all it’s not uter-you, it’s uter-us.
Submitted by Laura Caccioppoli*
*The author does not endorse any candidate.