By Greta Hallberg, For The Miami Student
In the first Democratic debate on CNN, Anderson Cooper asked the candidates what would make their administration different than Obama’s.
Hillary Clinton stated the obvious, noting her administration would not be a continuation of the current because she is a woman.
My inner feminist was torn about her answer. My first response, though, was outrage.
This is why female candidates get a bad reputation and don’t win elections, I thought. They play the ‘woman’ card instead of giving substantive policy answers. For many viewers, especially those who oppose a Clinton White House, that’s probably what they thought about her answer, too.
On Wednesday, the Janus Forum asked two debaters if women in America are equal. While legally, women are equal to men, the consensus on whether or not we are truly equal is mixed.
Women make up roughly 51 percent of the population in the United States. If sheer numbers were a reflection of equality, it would make sense that women should make up about half the workers, managers and leaders in each respective field.
This is not the case. Look at Congress, for example. The 2014 election made huge strides for women, yet they still only comprise about 20 percent of the elected officials in the House and the Senate.
We’ve also made switches in the opposite direction, where women have overtaken men in some fields. Women are surpassing men in higher education, making up 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 52 percent of master’s. While this slight majority is neither bad nor good, this change in education is significant. It also does not necessarily reflect employment after graduation.
Regardless, both of the speakers at the Janus Forum noted that men and women are different. Both sexes face problems with unfair stereotyping in the media, societal expectations and gaps in certain job fields. Both men and women have a different set of life experiences that give them
advantages over each other.
While they have different anatomy and chemical makeup, different inherent strengths and weaknesses, by no means should they be treated like one is lesser than the other. Men and women are different, but both equally valuable and necessary to society. Even at the most basic goal of reproduction, you simply cannot create another human life without a sperm and an egg. Parenting and marriage is, of course, a different story.
With this in mind, I’ve come to consider myself an equality feminist. Everyone brings something unique to the table. Men have different experiences than women do. Minority groups have unique experiences with race and ethnicity. All points of view are crucial in making big decisions in both public and private sectors. Yes, even rich, white males.
The next president is going to have to tackle health care and what the Affordable Care Act covers. The next president will hopefully address paid leave for both mothers and fathers. The next president will need to talk about childcare and education. Republican or Democrat, the life experiences that affect decision making are going to be different if you are female.
That is not to say that women are more equipped to tackle these issues, but that both the male and female perspective are equally important when discussing topics that affect families.
At 68, Hillary Clinton has grown up through tumultuous times for women and the feminist movement. She lived in a time before second-wave feminism revolutionized the way Americans see men and women. She lived before the enactment of gender equality policies and has directly experienced the effects.
Republican candidate and former CEO Carly Fiorina is the same, by the way. The two women are on opposite sides of the political aisle, but they both bring a feminine perspective to their decision making, which will have an impact on policies.
The point is, maybe Hillary Clinton’s response was not so far off base after all. Maybe the fact that she is a woman is a policy-based answer to why her administration will be different from Obama’s.
I am, by no means, ready to cast my vote tomorrow, but my inner feminist is going a little easier on the comments from the Senator from New York.