There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere lately about Hillary Rodham Clinton and feminists. For the first time in a long time, identity politics (specifically race, class, and gender) are playing a large role in a presidential election. This, it appears, is a problem. A few months ago, the big question was if a woman could be a feminist and not support Clinton. Today, the question seems to be if she can.
Democratic women favor Clinton over Obama, and by a considerable margin. This hardly seems surprising, since she consistently uses her position as a senator to introduce legislation that is good for feminist causes. The threatening part of this to your average male liberal blogger who supports Edwards (Edwards has the lead among white males with 45 percent, according to an April poll) is that women tend to take the civic responsibility of voting more seriously, even if they don't engage in public discourse as much. Since your typical Edwards supporter (white, male, affluent) has decided that Clinton is the wrong choice, they feel no qualms about telling women their choice to support a particular candidate is "unfortunate."
At a minimum, this kind of language -- especially coming from the male liberals, some of whom have controlled the Democratic party for decades -- feels condescending. At worst, it is patriarchal and sexist. Women, believe it or not, have just as much agency and decision making power in choosing a candidate as men do. What's really unfair about this argument is that the same logic isn't applied to black people that support Obama. It's perfectly okay that they identify with Obama on the basis of his race, but somehow, not okay for women to identify with Clinton on the basis of her gender.
Some of of this has to do with the perceived electability of a candidate in the general election. Some say Clinton running in the general election as the Democratic nominee because they think she would lose in the general election. Although that's a valid fear, there's only marginal evidence to support that Obama would be more competitive than Clinton in a general election against Giuliani. Besides, it's hard to predict this early what would happen in a general.
I guess what it all boils down to is I'm tired of liberal (sometimes very well-meaning dudes) to tell feminists (and I've met several who said they support Clinton privately but not publicly) that they are making the wrong or "unfortunate" choice. I've also heard liberals blaming feminists for giving an election to Rudy Giuliani that hasn't even happened yet. So lay off, okay? Women can make decisions, too.