Rethinking America

I’m Not Here for The Boys

Why Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, is winning over Millennial women.

Credit: Brian Stalter - www.flickr.com

Takeaways


  • I am voting for Bernie Sanders because I am a feminist, not despite that.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour is a feminist issue, and I stand with Bernie Sanders’ plan.
  • Reigning in Wall Street and the influence of corporate power in politics is a feminist issue.
  • Ending fracking is a feminist issue, and I stand with indigenous women and our environment.

Contrary to the claim posed by feminist icon Gloria Steinem, I am not here for the boys when it comes to supporting Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.

Do not tell me to “grow up” or “get with the program,” as the New York Times phrased it. Do not tell me what to think, what to believe, or whom to vote for.

I know how to think – and I am a member of what may easily constitute the most informed generation on a wide range of public policy issues.

Also, do not tell me, as former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright did, that there’s “a special place in hell” for women who don’t support other women for leadership roles unconditionally.

But more than anything else, do not call me a bad feminist for supporting Bernie Sanders. It’s actually the other way around: I am voting for Bernie Sanders because I am a feminist.

Wages as a feminist issue

Senator Sanders is the only presidential candidate who supports a $15 minimum wage for all Americans. The national minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour.

An American working full time at the current federal minimum wage earns $15,080 per year, which is far below the federal poverty line for any household with children.

Consider as well that the majority of minimum wage employees in the United States are women of color and young women. This low minimum wage places these groups of women at serious risk not just for experiencing poverty, but also for staying in poverty.

That makes raising the minimum wage a profoundly feminist issue, and that is why I stand with Bernie Sanders’ plan to raise the wage to $15 per hour.

Wall Street as a feminist obstacle

Senator Sanders is also the only presidential candidate who has rejected all Wall Street donations.

Contrary to the protestations of the Clinton campaign, in a post-“Citizens United” America, who would dispute that financial institutions and corporations donate large sums of money to political campaigns in exchange for political favors?

These favors often include deregulatory policies that hurt middle class Americans. Harmful byproducts of financial deregulation directly affect women, especially young women.

The Wall Street crash of 2008 and the subsequent economic downturn that took place across the globe disproportionately affected women. African-American women in particular saw much of their two decades worth of income gains completely erased by the recession.

The burden and long-term effects of high youth unemployment in developed economies have also disproportionately fallen on the backs of women.

All of this makes reining in Wall Street and the influence of corporate power in politics a feminist issue.

Bernie Sanders’ uncompromised campaign puts him in a unique position to enact real, systemic change on the influence of corporate money in politics.

Environmental justice for women

Sanders is also the only presidential candidate that opposes the use of hydraulic natural gas fracking for U.S. energy production. That puts him in contrast not only to Republicans across the board, but also to Hillary Clinton.

Fracking pollutes the land and water and accelerates climate change. This puts low-income women across the globe in serious jeopardy.

Fracking also frequently takes place on indigenous lands, which tears apart the fabric of their primarily matriarchal societies.

Ending fracking is a feminist issue, and I stand with indigenous women and our environment.

Bernie Sanders champions these values in his environmental platform better than any other presidential candidate in the race.

I’m voting for Bernie Sanders because I’m a feminist who supports marginalized women who are typically excluded from the political process.

Why we’re “feeling the Bern”

Unfortunately, women like Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright are apparently unable to wrap their minds around many of those considerations.

To me, gender factors are an important consideration, but they alone cannot determine voting behavior, as Steinem and Albright suggest.

Yes, we may stand on the shoulders of those women who came before us. But that heritage cannot be turned into a “legacy debt” shackling our political freedom of maneuver, as the Clinton campaign and its surrogates suggest.

That is why the large majority of young Democratic women who will vote or have already voted for Bernie Sanders #FeelTheBern. See you in hell, ladies!

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About Talia Lepson

Talia Lepson is Chair of the College Democrats of Massachusetts Women’s Caucus.

Responses to “I’m Not Here for The Boys”

Archived Comments.

  1. On February 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm pherford responded with... #

    Ms Lepson identifies the problem that is difficult for non-millennials to understand. The passionate support of Senator Sanders is a banner that millennials can hold high. But what about his uncompromising positions that Mr Lepson lauds. Senator Sanders has a good record in his political trajectory. He has learned the art of compromise that has made it possible for him to claim credit for co-sponsorship on legislation and policies he instituted as Mayor of Burlington VT. The Senator knows that his call for revolution resonates among more than millennials. The passion of the young men and women who support the Senator has one of the same qualities that Mr. Trumps more ardent supporters display. A disconnect from what comes next. The wall Mr. Trumps wants to build will cost 10X or more than he suggests. The Mexicans have made it clear they will not pay for it. Barring all Muslims from travel to the US is not going happen. Making America great and winning are not policies. The next election will not produce supermajorities of like minded socialist/democrats in the House and Senate, and even then calling for revolution is not a cry that brings opposing views to the table. Yes Ms Lepson, change is needed, radical changes are needed, but there are realities beyond the rhetoric of demand and revolution.

  2. On February 24, 2016 at 3:25 pm Chuck Rogers responded with... #

    I like this a lot. Thank you, Ms. Lepson, for helping to save this nation from the plunge that it was headed for until Bernie Sanders came along and threw his hat into the ring. I had trepidations that made my stomach turn when I realized that HRC would be running and Elizabeth Warren would absolutely reject the call. I had no real knowledge of what O’Malley had to offer, but was keen to find out and turn my support to him, if he showed more promise for crafting national policies that would exceed the dubious aspirations that HRC has for our nation. Then along came the highly energetic, unassailable Senator from Vermont, much to the relief of the hearts and minds of those of us tired, actually bone weary of the game of ‘choose one from column A, or one from column B’ tale of American Presidential campaigns; a person of integrity and wisdom with no doubt, full vision of the warped trajectory of the right leaning Democratic political machine, sprang up for the People. That person is Bernie Sanders, I am so happy. Now, if only he would choose Elizabeth Warren, and she would accept to be the Vice Presidential candidate, should he make it through the Primary season leaving HRC as a footnote, I think they would be unbeatable. Again, Ms.Talia Lepson, lest I was not as much expressive as I’d like to think I was; thank you very much!