What do Women (Voters) Want?

By Wendy Kaminer

It’s easy to overestimate or over-hype the implications of the Iowa caucus results, but it does seem clear that Hillary Clinton needs to re-evaluate her reputed reliance on the “women’s vote.” Reportedly, while Clinton had the edge with older women (and anecdotal evidence showed that elderly women found her especially appealing) Obama captured women under 35.  The last results I heard before retiring last night gave Clinton less than a third of the women‘s vote in Iowa.

Iowa caucus women refused to play identity politics. Emily’s List, which worked hard for Clinton, is no doubt disappointed, and some are bound to regard Clinton’s relatively poor showing among women as a feminist failure.  I find it refreshing, although I can only speculate about its causes, which may not be so lofty:  Maybe younger women see Clinton as a mother, whose grasp they are trying to escape, while elderly women regard her as a daughter, who can fulfill aspirations that they could never contemplate.

In any case, why should any feminist cheer women with a bias in favor of female candidates and jeer men with a bias in favor of males?  If the willingness of white voters to support an African-American candidate is a sign of progress and enlightenment, why is it regressive, or even a betrayal, for African-Americans to support a white candidate?  

Of course, I know the many explanations that might be offered in response, involving the historic oppression and continuing discrimination suffered by black males and all women, and the difference between majority and minority biases.  But shouldn’t we look forward to elections in which no groups practice identity politics instead of elections in which only some groups do?

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