WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23:  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in a roundtable discussion on expanding opportunities in Americas urban areas, at the Center for American Progress,with Lee Saunders at left, in Washington DC Monday March 23,  2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Dear New York Times: The Real Reason Young Feminists Reject Hillary

On Sunday, the world got its latest in a tired stream of “feminist generation war” think pieces, courtesy of The New York Times. The subject: Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

In it, authors Amy Chozick and Yamiche Alcindor explore what they term the “generational divide” on the subject of Clinton’s candidacy. They interview older women who “get” sexism (“I fought this whole war, and now we’re running out of time, and if not Hillary, then who would it be?”) and younger women who don’t. They select quotes from the younger women that portray them as ditzy (“I want to see someone who, like, has the fervor to fight”) and post-sexism (“If I am supporting her because she is a woman, that’s equally as bad as not supporting her because of her gender”). The (older) women “experts”— who the authors identify by their titles rather than their age — are unanimous in their condemnation of the younger generation’s supposed inexperience, apoliticism, and indolence: “They haven’t experienced the kind of barriers that their mothers and grandmothers did — the kind of exclusions from areas of accomplishment,” one claims. “The younger generation just thinks the pipeline will magically fill up with women who are qualified enough to run for president.” They just haven’t “engage[d]” enough, or “pa[id] [enough] attention.”

Young women’s ambivalence about Clinton, the authors sum up, is “maddening.”

What the piece elides is that, for many young women, their rejection of Clinton is informed and deeply political. Many of them have suffered violence, discrimination, and rampant unemployment. They have drawn upon their feminist commitments, alongside their lived experience, to evaluate and reject Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy, her expansion of drone warfare, gutting of welfare, (continuing) defense of a burgeoning surveillance state, and more — all of which have hurt women in the U.S. and abroad.

By framing young women as hopelessly uninformed and apolitical — in contrast to their (fore)mothers — the piece obscures real debate and disagreement within generations. It’s a tired trope, one that erases the voices of young women who have decided to demand more of their candidate than that she identify as a woman. And that’s perhaps the most rigorous engagement of all.

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New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a senior editor at Feministing.com and the co-founder (and former ED) of Know Your IX, a national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, and The Nation. She's a 1L at Yale Law School.

Dana Bolger is the co-founder of Know Your IX and a senior editor at Feministing.

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