Paper Opinion: Consider gender in Presidential election to combat sexism

Gender matters. It matters when applying for a position as CEO, it matters when obtaining health care and it matters when selecting the next President of the United States of America.

Gender matters because sexism is alive, and as long as it is, Hillary Clinton’s gender matters.  It is not the sole reason anyone should vote for her, but it is a valid point in her favor.

Every politician and businessman claims he or she wants to hire and promote women. Mitt Romney famously stated  that his staff had “brought him binders full of women,” to fill positions at the Governor’s Office. However, the statistics show that few of those women were hired.

As Jill Filipovic, a New York attorney and a feminist author, pronounced in a recent New York Times editorial, the line of governments, corporations and the American elite for too long has been, “We want women, just not this woman.”

The truth is, for every political office  except for President, we have advocated for both gender and race to be a factor in deciding who to vote for. People have pushed for Hispanic justices, female members of cabinet and African-American CEO’s. So, why are people not pushing for more gender diversity for the presidency?

It all comes down to many Americans simply not being ready for a female to lead. In fact, many of the criticisms of Clinton are linked to sexist stereotypes.

‘Manipulative,’ ‘cold,’ ‘overly ambitious,’ ‘calculating’ and ‘liar,’ all Clinton critiques, ring true as words most often associated with female criticisms. I know because I have heard them handed out to girls since grade school.

If you still don’t believe that sexism has any role in the Democratic primary, consider this: would a female version of Bernie Sanders (yelling, disheveled clothing, and all) have any chance at being taken seriously?

Gender matters because sexism is still alive. And, when it comes to discrimination based on gender, Clinton understands what Sanders does not. She understands that the workplace is still biased against women. She understands, from her work as a lawyer and later as a politician, what it is like to have to be, not just as good as, but better than your male counterparts to be given any credibility. That is why she has fronted women’s issues such as universal pre-K and the the wage gap in her campaign.

Bernie Sanders may support some of those reforms as well, but he has certainly not placed them at the forefront of his campaign, and these issues deserve to be given more attention. These next eight years, in my mind, will spell the fate of American women. Right now, access to abortion and other women’s health services is being threatened. Maternity leave is finally part of the national conversation, opening a door for a bill to be passed that will decide the issues at the federal level within the next few years. There is simply too much at stake to lose these fights, or even push them to the sideline.

Only Clinton knows the pain and reality of sexism. Only Clinton has fronted women’s issues in her campaign. Only Clinton has a consistent record defending women’s rights (she may have flipped on other issues, but she has never flipped on her ladies). Only Clinton, as a fellow woman, can be counted on to never desert women.

Clinton would be the first woman to win a major political party’s presidential nomination, so it is safe to say that she might be the only chance we get, at least for the next few decades, to proudly make the face of our country a woman.

I stand with Clinton, not only because she is a woman, but because I am beginning to realize that ‘not this woman,’ is code for ‘not any woman,’ and I am tired of waiting.