Vote Female or Vote For Real

Sophia Maltese, Managing Editor

Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar reaching the Democratic debate stage is no small feat. For years, women have been underrepresented in politics. According to The New York Times, women comprise only 25% of America’s city councils, 25% of state-level legislative bodies, 19% of the House of Representatives and 21% of the Senate.

For much of my life, I have been told about the discrepancies between the number of men and women in politics and, more generally, in positions of authority.

The United States presents itself as a defender of democracy, but the reality is that women are still not equal participants in our government. This situation persists 100 years after the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, and they were legally recognized as democratic participants.

Still, the United States, according to Molly Bangs from The Century Foundation, “clocks in behind 98 other countries with regard to women’s participation as representatives in elected government bodies.”

Obviously, women’s inequality permeates the political sphere, an issue that is especially present when women attempt to reach a seemingly unattainable position—the president of the United States.

A woman in this office would be a landmark occurrence both symbolically and historically. Part of me wants to throw all policies aside and vote for a woman who has faced adversity. But, on my conscience, I cannot scream “down with the patriarchy!” and vote for Warren because I do not believe she would be the best candidate.   

The New York Times, Politico and other supposed objective sources occasionally have a difficult time looking past gender, publishing articles with headlines such as, “Why Electing a Female President Is Secondary for Some Women” or “Will the United States ever have a Female President?”

While I agree that representation is important, remedying the lack of representation does not solve the root issue of engrained and false biases against women. Remedying the bias will fix the representation. 

“Some social scientists cite traditional family arrangements that limit women’s career choices. Researchers at the Brookings Institution have found what might be called an ambition gap, with women underestimating their abilities and chances for success,”according to The New York Times Editorial Staff.  “It makes them less likely than men to even consider seeking public office, or to have political professionals encourage them to run.”

Women are constrained from the day they are born. They are told how to act, what to wear and how much space they can occupy. If you are an aggressive woman, you are insulted with profanity. If you are strong and argumentative, you are not very “ladylike.”

I have personally faced this issue multiple times, but I refuse to let my internal feminist grab hold of the reins and vote for a candidate only to see a change in representation.

Voting for a woman because she is a woman is not a feminist action.

Voting for a woman because she is the best person for the job is a feminist action.

If you vote for a woman because of her gender, that is reducing her, in all her complexity, to her biological composition, which is the very thing feminists are railing against.

While the imposition of standards might change if young people observe powerful females, we cannot place that obligation on the race for president. Right now, we need a president who can lead us well, who cares about her or his country and who is ready to forgo the unqualifying notion of gender. Our future president must challenge fellow politicians with legitimate policies that grab the nation by the shoulders to say women are here, we are smart and we are ready for whatever you have to throw at us.

To do this is not to submit to the male agenda, but it is to transcend confining gender norms. Any other way of promoting gender would be to reinforce the linear ideations of popularized standards. I am not my body. I am my intelligence, my grit, my passion and my desire to stand in this world as a human being, not just as a woman.