Progressive Sexism Holds Women Back from the Oval Office

Van Jones did it again, but he didn't say oops. With one sentence he dismissed Hillary's progressive work and brought back mid-20th century sexism to the forefront. In reference to the 2016 election he said that the "Clinton days are over." Note to Jones, the Clinton family wasn't running for President, Hillary was.

Hillary is a singular person distinct from her marriage. Does Van Jones see Hillary as a wife before he sees her as a person? Yes, it's possible. (I was surprised to hear his words as I have been impressed by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights which he co-founded. Ella Baker is a woman whose accomplishments haven't been as widely recognized as they should.)

His dismissal of Hillary is not a stand alone statement. In 2016 he referred to Hillary as a "workaholic do-gooder chick." This was during the historic primary where she broke the unspoken gendered political wall that barred women from being major party nominees. Surprisingly, Van Jones admitted this during the Democratic convention. He said it was at this point that he saw all the  "dots put together in the right way." I'm not sure if the dots were new information for Van Jones (they shouldn't have been), but there is far more he could have said about the political work of Hillary Clinton.

His words are an example of progressive sexism which is a tool used unconsciously by people on the left who see women's rights and children's rights as offshoots or subsets of the main male frame of politics. Their thinking is patriarchal.

Hillary did things no first lady has ever done. She blasted through multiple barriers for women in politics starting from the place as first lady. She turned a nationally recognized role as helpmate into a role as global warrior for women's rights. Many women can now follow in her shoes. To marginalize her as just part of a marriage is pre-women's liberation movement sexism at best. At worst it is the maintenance of patriarchal gender roles that keep the Oval Office solidly male.

In 2016 Hillary didn't run just to win. She did it to bring her significant skills to lead a nation and help change the world. Her life's work is an example of politics that includes women and children.

I was recently in Pakistan at the International Islamic University, Islamabad and female students (on the female campus) wanted to discuss the election. They were amazed that Hillary wasn't elected and added that they had been "rooting for her." Some were forlorn, others shocked, one was smiling in an embarrassed way. I could see that she was sad, yet perplexed at how Hillary did not win. She was looking at me as if to say, "Can't the American people see that we needed her?" I assured her that the majority of the voters could see them.

The words that come from the U.S. Presidency, and the President-elect, are heard around the world. (Think about this when you read his tweets and remember the "pussy" talk.)

Electing a woman such as Hillary to the Oval Office would have been a great change that would bring the issues of children and women to the forefront, globally. That changes our foreign policy and domestic policy. That "do-gooder chick" would have changed the lives of women world-wide.

Don't believe me? Study the nations where women are subjugated and notice that those countries are hotbeds for terrorism and violence. In those areas children's lives are marginalized and destroyed. We have never had a president speak to them in a way that Hillary would have spoken: as part of the mainframe of global politics.

This type of work is far more than just being a workaholic or a chick. Hillary wasn't just part of a Clinton family. Van Jones' words dismiss her truly progressive work. Perhaps he didn't connect the dots, but First Lady Michelle Obama most certainly did when she said about Hillary, "...we want a president who values and honors women, who teaches our daughters and our sons that women are full and equal human being worth, deserving of love and respect."

A woman in the Oval Office is needed now. 

Progressive sexism is real and it keeps the U.S. presidency solidly male.