Women for Hillary, it's complicated, no matter your generation. photo by Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America

Women for Hillary, it’s complicated, no matter your generation.
photo by Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America

Indeed, the question of Hillary’s likability is becoming more and more absurd, especially when you consider her credentials, arguably the most impressive of any 2016 presidential candidate. Why is that when it comes to Ms. Clinton, the sheer force of her experience and intelligence just isn’t enough? [Quartz]

IT WAS NOT supposed to be this way. Watching Hillary in 2015 has been excruciating and I’m hardly the only woman feeling this way. Support may not waiver for some, but for others things have clearly changed. There are also very complicated philosophical and emotional issues at play about feminism, which is affecting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president.

I’m not making any sweeping conclusions about the anecdotal reporting gathered below, nor am I particularly happy about what’s rising. But something tangible is seeping through when you look at the thoughts and feelings of women being quoted in stories about Clinton. Sexism isn’t central to her challenges, though the media is overly obsessed with her every move. It is Hillary’s own actions and words that have caused her trouble this year, which is casting Clinton in a completely different light than in ’08. It’s complicated by the times in which she’s running, aspects that are different from 2008.

There is the film Suffragette, which opened to protests in the U.K., with actresses like Meryl Streep wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” Some didn’t appreciate the comparison.

“It’s timely because the cast of the film is entirely white and they are running with this slogan, ‘I’d rather be a rebel than a slave’ which implies passivity or acceptance of being a slave. But it also ignores the fact that women of colour were completely involved in the suffragette struggle. This film isn’t representing them.” [Guardian]

Meryl Streep announced that she doesn’t consider herself a feminist. Streep told TimeOut, “I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance.”

Democratic women know Clinton’s resume, respect it, but clearly something isn’t clicking for some.

“Hillary has been a strident advocate for women’s rights for many years, and I will not speak against her,” Gale said. But she held a handmade sign that said “Feminists for Bernie.” – Karen Tumulty [Washington Post]

In a Bloomberg Politics focus group, two women said that they “don’t feel unequal” to men, so Clinton’s message on women doesn’t speak to them.

Then there is the new piece by Lizzie Crocker on The Daily Beast about millennial feminists and Hillary. It’s another example of the wide rage of emotions Hillary Clinton engenders, because feminism’s definition has broadly expanded.

But that’s the rub: Clinton’s brand of feminism (and, some would say, Dunham’s too) doesn’t align with Progressive Millennial Feminism. Her vision of the movement is too outdated and mainstream for most of today’s progressive young liberals, whose feminism prioritizes intersectionality and identity politics.

Erica Brandt, 27, dismissed Clinton’s feminism as “almost first-wave” and tediously similar to Sheryl Sandberg’s privileged “Lean In” manifesto.

“It’s fine for middle-class white people, but it completely ignores intersectionality,” Brandt, who grew up in Boston and works in education policy, told The Daily Beast. She worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign, and considers herself a left-leaning Democrat.

After Labor Day I wrote a piece on Clinton that was hard for many to read. Her performances, media availability, all of it has moved in the right direction since. Hillary remains the most prepared person in the race today. Unfortunately, the autopsy of her campaign through the glare of this season’s social media exposure has been withering.

Rebecca Traister in October Elle wrote “I’m a Hot Mess for Hillary.” At 40, Traister is yet another generation weighing in on Clinton’s candidacy. This is one snippet, so read the whole piece.

Welcome to Decision 2016, where the stakes are high, the Democratic front-runner is female, and those of us who care about women’s representation, the country’s future, and the candidate on whom it’s all riding are stuck on the roller coaster from hell. …

[…] Let me be honest: I’ve spent much time over the past seven years silently pleading with the gods of electoral politics, with the imaginary Elizabeth Warren in my head, and maybe also with whoever makes older people decide they’d like to retire and hang out with their grandkids, that Clinton would decide not to do this again.

I realize that’s unfair of me. It is, in fact, sexist of me. Because if she were a man, I wouldn’t feel this way.

I understand that she’s smart, talented, and as equipped as any politician (far better than most) to be president. Even though our politics can diverge (with mine veering to the left of hers), I recognize that there’s no one in the Democratic field better positioned to make a run for the White House. She should run for president. She should be president.

But I also know that the time she’s spent whacking away at an untrodden, weedy path toward the presidency means that she’s lugging decades’ worth of personal and political baggage on her back.

Jill Filipovic responded to Traister’s piece

To join Rebecca Traister on the ’08 road, I remember standing in the NBC skybox at the Democratic convention after giving an interview to Al Jazeera English on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. I awaited Hillary Clinton’s speech, wistful about what might have been. Watching her speak, my heart was in my throat. I was so choked up I could hardly compose myself, except I had to, because of where I stood. The emotion I felt pervaded my life until I completed my book on the 2008 primary season, which left me with only one hope. Hillary in 2016.

There are GenX-ers or Z-ers who are unimpressed by Clinton, Rebecca Traister and Jill Filipovic with colliding emotions, even as they support Hillary. There are women like me who expect more from a woman candidate than Clinton has delivered this year. Then there’s Meryl Streep preferring “humanist” instead of feminist. That’s six generations of women represented right there, though I’m not saying it’s definitive, but it is illustrative.

The changing view and meaning of feminism has altered Clinton’s trajectory in the campaign, perhaps profoundly.

Maybe it’s that this election doesn’t feel like a feminist election at all, because our problems go well beyond the importance of electing a woman president.

Or maybe it’s that Clinton’s tactical campaign, after watching her fumble for 6 months on the server story, and all of her carefully planned announcements and roll outs don’t feel organic or tied to a larger vision, something that makes her whole campaign seem like a throw back.

The overriding message of Streep’s choice to call herself a “humanist” reveals a bigger theme to the 2016 election that Clinton doesn’t represent. Like Global Citizen and the effort to reduce extreme hunger, as well as climate change, women’s inequality seems almost parochial today. That doesn’t mean it’s unimportant, but it’s not like Hillary Clinton is the only candidate carrying the message of feminism.

Is part of it about watching Bernie Sanders and hearing him say the campaign isn’t about him, but about a revolution made to save our democracy?

I just don’t know. It’s complicated.