I Am Not Ashamed

Not so long ago, I described myself as "the kind of person driven by a genuine independent spirit, but also by a good measure of spite and petulance."

If anyone had any doubt that I know myself pretty damn well, you need only consider the donations I've made during primary season. As I said here before, the day after Iowa, I made a contribution to the Edwards campaign just because I was so pissed off that the media completely ignored his second-place win. I was never fully an Edwards supporter -- I always liked him a lot but knew I'd end up choosing between Obama and Clinton when it came down to it, even if he hadn't dropped out by the time I got to vote. I just couldn't get excited about him the way I could about the other two. But goddamn if I was gonna let the media skip over his strong finish to focus on the person who came in behind him -- even when that was the candidate I was leaning toward supporting -- without at least a symbolic protest on my part.

And just now, after reading Liss's recent post about Hillary supporters and all the excellent posts she links to in it, I made a contribution to the Clinton campaign. Twice as much as I'd sent to Edwards. Because, in a nutshell, I GOT YER GENDER CARD RIGHT HERE, ASSHOLES. AND IT SAYS "REGISTERED DEMOCRAT."

I also voted for her on Tuesday -- which is probably no surprise to anyone who read my previous posts about her, but I actually did take a long time to make the decision official. My boyfriend wouldn't even talk to me about it; he didn't vote in the primary and is thoroughly irritated by my election fever, which he sees as premature. That's because he is of the entirely reasonable opinion that the two candidates are practically identical in terms of policy, possessed of roughly equal advantages and disadvantages in terms of electability, and both a damn sight better than any of the Republican candidates. No doubt representing a large portion of non-blogging democrats, he sees it this way: "It's like you're trying to make me decide which kitten is cutest! I DON'T CARE! THEY'RE BOTH GOOD!"

So he was useless. And most of my friends who do care are rabid Obama supporters -- or at least they're publicly claiming they are. (More on that in a mo.) So, yeah, like so many women discussed in the aforementioned posts, I felt like I couldn't admit out loud that I really liked Hillary and was sincerely considering voting for her. All the cool kids hate Hillary! I'm not supposed to vote with my lady parts! What am I thinking?!?

Then the blatant sexism in the media ramped up, and I got a visit from my old friends Spite and Petulance (not to be confused with Petulant, though he's welcome any time). They sat me down with a bottle of wine and said, "Dude. Fuck this shit. Seriously."

So I started blogging tentatively about my Hillary support. I said I still didn't know if I was going to vote for her (bullshit -- though in my defense, I was lying to myself, not just dissembling for your benefit), but I was, you know, starting to lean that way. Because, first woman president? KIND OF FUCKING AWESOME.

And then a funny thing happened: a whole bunch of women started telling me, publicly and privately, that they felt the same way I did. Like Shaker MPinSC, whom Liss quotes in her post, I heard the phrase "coming out" with regard to supporting Hillary. I heard women say they'd kept it a secret because they felt so ashamed of it.

On Tuesday morning, a friend IMed me and said, "I'm going to vote for Hillary today. Thank you for writing about her on Shakes and making me realize it's okay to like her."

That made me really glad I'd "come out" in favor of Hillary here, but damn, it makes me sad in general. I do think Liss is absolutely right when she says:

I want to stress that it's not just a function of women voters themselves being shamed into silence by accusations of "vagina voting" (whether Hillary's being a woman is a factor they're considering or not), but also a result of Hillary's womanness being the weapon most frequently wielded against her, inevitably having the (desired) effect of causing women supporters to feel as though they are a liability to their candidate.
But I also think the accusations of "vagina voting" are an incredibly powerful weapon, being wielded by male and female progressives as well as conservatives, and by feminists as well as sexists. Sure, lots of those people will deny that they are doing or ever would do such a thing, and many aren't doing it consciously. But at the end of the day, it always comes back to this message: "Don't just vote for her because she's a woman. Use your brain."

And the problem with that message is that it so often comes packaged with a strong endorsement of Obama (or, in days of yore, Edwards) -- so the clear implication is that those among us who ARE using their brains are not voting for Clinton, hint hint.

Which leaves secret Clinton supporters to wonder: Does it even matter that my brain tells me she has way more experience with fighting off the GOP hate machine than Obama does? Does it even matter that my brain prefers her health care plan? Does it even matter that my brain thinks she's a stronger debater? Or that she sure as hell did not spend her years in the White House merely serving tea, and that's some extraordinary experience right there? And isn't it in fact my brain telling me that Clinton's being a woman is tremendously meaningful?

I mean, if my vagina actually had an opinion, I can pretty much guarantee you it would be pro-Obama. My vagina doesn't care much for Clinton, frankly, but if Obama were single, my vagina might very well take an interest in politics. As it is, my support for Hillary is certainly coming from some other part of my body. And smart money's on the mushy grey stuff between my ears.

(Not that I'd know much about smart, being a girl and all.)

But saying out loud that my brain prefers Clinton, that my brain controlled the hand that filled in the arrow for her on Tuesday, that my brain would really like to see a woman president in general and this one in particular, still sets me up for accusations of being a crappy liberal at best and a maudlin girly girl at worst. It's a shitty feeling.

Fortunately, I'm just spiteful and petulant enough that every time someone says, "I'm totally not sexist -- I just don't want to vote for her because she's got such an inflated sense of entitlement, and she's so ambitious, and I don't like her husband, and I don't like that she tries so hard not to look 'soft,' and none of that has anything to do with her being a woman," I feel compelled to put up another blog post saying, "I VOTED FOR CLINTON IN PART BECAUSE I AM SICK OF SEXISM BEING SUCH A NORMAL PART OF OUR CULTURE THAT PEOPLE CAN'T EVEN CONNECT THE FUCKING DOTS THERE." Every time I hear about a woman being afraid to admit she likes Clinton, I feel compelled to put up another post saying, "I VOTED FOR CLINTON, AND I AM NOT ASHAMED."

I voted for Clinton, and I am not ashamed.

I like Obama lots, but I'm more excited about Clinton, and I am not ashamed.

I want a woman president, and I am not ashamed.

I want Hillary Rodham Clinton, specifically, to be the first woman president, and I am not ashamed.

I used my brain to vote on Tuesday, and I am not fucking ashamed.

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