by Shaker Alison Rose, a fierce queer feminist, avid book lover, and proud cat lady who lives in the northern SF Bay Area.
[Content Note: Misogyny.]
This past Saturday evening, I got a call from a phone banker for Hillary Clinton. The woman introduced herself as Pam and asked if I had a few minutes to talk. Usually, when I realize it's a political call, I do the "Sorry, no thank you, not interested, please take my number off your list" knee-jerk response. But this time, I had an immediate and opposite reaction, and told her I'd be happy to chat. She noted my strong history of support for Democrats and asked if Clinton could count on my vote in California's primary on June 7.
"Oh, absolutely!" I enthused. "I am 110% committed to voting for her in the primary and the general. I couldn't be more excited about it!" (I may have literally pumped my fist in the air while saying this.)
Pam laughed joyously and said, "Now that's what we like to hear!"
We talked for a few more minutes about the importance of this election and getting out the vote, and wished each other well. I ended the call, smiling to myself.
I know why I reacted so differently to this political call than I usually do, and it's a two-part explanation:
1. I really am super excited to vote for Clinton, to have a part in electing the first woman president of the United States, and I enjoy talking to other Clinton supporters about this historic moment and what it means for us and for society as a whole.
2. I am determined to prove, as often as I can, that the media narrative of a dearth of enthusiasm among Clinton's supporters is a falsehood, and an intentional and sexist one at that.
We've heard so much about the supposed "enthusiasm gap" between supporters of Clinton and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders. The media has had ample coverage of the very large crowds that Sanders has drawn to his rallies and town halls and the massive amounts of money he has taken in through fundraising, and they have seen the more prevalent and louder presence on social media sites of those who are "feeling the Bern," and the story quickly became that Sanders' fans are excited and eager and involved, putting their whole selves into this election, pumped up and ready to make big things happen.
And of course, the balance of that, in the media's collective mind, is that Clinton's fans are fewer in number (not true), quieter and less effusive about her campaign (also incorrect), and are voting for her just as a rote exercise or with a shrug and a sigh and a muttered comment about "lesser of two evils."
I could say a whole lot about that "lesser of two evils" thing, but suffice it to say it's usually willfully ignorant bullshit, and no more so than when the "two" we're talking about are Hillary Clinton and Donald fucking Trump.
There is also the stupendously sexist assertion, put forth by various Twitter eggs and comment trolls, that any smidgen of enthusiasm one might notice among Clinton's supporters is based solely on her being a woman, because clearly there's no other reason at all to want to vote for her. Women aren't voting for her because we like her policies, her ideas, her capabilities, and who she is as a person; it's because she's a 'she.' Funny though, I'm pretty sure I didn't vote for Carly Fiorina, or Michele Bachmann, or Sarah Palin. Interesting.
But regarding enthusiasm: I have it. A lot of it. As do many other Clinton supporters I know in person and online. I am enthusiastic about seeing the first woman elected to the highest office in the country. I am enthusiastic about issues that affect women being put at the forefront of a national campaign. I am enthusiastic about a woman with Clinton's intelligence, experience, fortitude, empathy, and kindness having the chance to use those traits to the benefit of all of us, to continue the amazing progressive changes we have seen under President Barack Obama, and to introduce ideas and create accomplishments all her own.
I am enthusiastic about knowing that young girls will open a history textbook soon and see someone in the gallery of presidential portraits who looks more like them, and whose image tells them they can do great things, too, and whose smile encourages them to believe in themselves enough to try.
I am enthusiastic about witnessing something that could not have come about without feminism, and while I harbor no illusions that President Hillary Clinton will usher in a "post-feminist" society, I do strongly believe that she will inspire more people—and not just women—to care about feminism and align themselves with the ideals therein.
I am enthusiastic about, finally!, a female president, and more specifically about that female president being Clinton. It is not simply the vague idea I am focused on, but she herself.
She makes me enthusiastic. I am not alone in this, and I am not going to be quiet about it because the media is straining to believe that I don't exist, or because fauxgressive cis white men don't want to hear my voice any more than they want to hear Clinton's. But both of us, and a lot of others, are going to keep talking, and thinking, and working, and achieving.
Sanders' supporters may be louder, but yelling the loudest and talking the most doesn't mean you have better things to say. And it's easy to be the loud ones getting all the attention when you don't have to worry about hateful invective hurled at you for it.
Being vocal about supporting Clinton, about liking her, about being enthusiastic for her candidacy, is not always easy. As Sady Doyle has said, it can even feel subversive, because it is so often met with derision, dismissiveness, and finger-wagging disapproval of your insufficient progressivism.
But if you want to counter a false narrative, you've got to put forth an authentic one in its place. You've got to raise your voice, speak your truth, and show your enthusiasm, with pride and conviction.