Hillary Clinton and Feminism: Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing.

“I’m for real!!”

While most mainstream media size up Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential campaign as a boost for feminism, University of Maryland School of Law professor and civil rights attorney Sherrilyn A. Ifill takes an opposing position: That New York State Senator’s rise to power has been, in fact, “very traditional.”

“In some ways,” says Ifill, “Mrs. Clinton, contrary to her public image, is a kind of throwback to the 1950s.”

When she knocked back a shot and a beer in that bar in Pennsylvania, Mrs. Clinton ended any pretense of running as a feminist. The whole point of feminism is to reject the idea of masculinized power. Feminism seeks to counter the mythology that stereotypically masculine behavior is the only legitimate way in which leadership can be exercised. Mrs. Clinton’s performance in that bar was the equivalent of Michael S. Dukakis’ ill-fated ride in the tank while running for president in 1988 – except that feminists had every right to expect that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was premised on the idea that leadership is about thinking and instincts and a heart and passion for justice, not macho stunts.

Ifill’s “No loss for feminism” is brief, but starkly worded. Close readers of MEDIA ASSASSIN may recall her name from an appearance on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, to discuss the history and lingering effects of lynching.

However, in full disclosure, I met Dr. Ifill in Spring 2005 at the MacDowell Colony, where we shared residency as fellows. You’ll decide if her essay’s here for that reason, or because each charge whizzes past the dome like a shot.



#1 jb on 06.17.08 at 12:52 pm

thanks for sharing. this also serves as an oblique response to some of the foolishness Linda Hirshman has been spouting recently. hopefully Ifill’s reading can generate traction.

#2 Jill Herbers on 06.18.08 at 1:05 pm

Wake up! Any time a woman has run for president and makes it that far (and that close), it’s a boost for women, feminism, and the girls and boys growing up to witness it.

#3 Jill Herbers on 06.18.08 at 1:07 pm

I just wanted to add: It is also a boost to the health of the country as a whole, as well, all of it.

Leave a Comment