It is with no desire to convince anyone of anything that I write this piece. I do not want to convince, cajole, harangue or harass.
And I certainly don't want to shame anyone, because there is already far too much shame out there and far too many people who are trying to persuade.
Shame, in the service of persuasion, is to me a device that is ultimately patriarchal and dominating. And there are voices who will try to shame in order to persuade you. Some are loud and angry. Some of the shamers use ALL CAPS.
Some are former international leaders who may even suggest that if you do not vote as she wishes, you may be damned for all eternity.
So I do not want to shame you or convince. But mostly, I don't want to convince you because I prefer that you convince yourself.
And please, don't forget to do a little research. In particular, do a little research about how money influences politics. And how politics influences our lives. It may blow your mind.
I don't like to think of myself as a victim, but I am constantly aware of being a female at a time and in a place in which misogyny lives and breathes and thrives.
So, please don't tell me that we don't still live in a man's world.
Don't tell me that it doesn't matter how women look or behave. That we can act crazy or that our hair can be unkempt, that we can -- without censure -- yell or openly express anger.
Please don't tell me that misogyny is over, that feminism is obsolete.
Please don't tell me that opportunities and treatment are equal for women and men.
I don't yell. I could yell if I wanted to, but I don't. I am quiet. I am a girl. I am demure.
And I will quietly tell you that I am a feminist, but I will not vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary this year.
I will not vote for Hillary in the Democratic primary, not because I don't vote with my vagina, but because I do vote with my vagina.
I vote with my lady part, and my sacred lady part -- with its esoteric live-giving wisdom -- is telling me to do whatever I have to do to resist and destroy the patriarchal killing machine.
Hillary Clinton is deeply embedded in the patriarchal killing machine. Perhaps she wasn't always, and she is certainly no worse an offender than many of her male counterparts in politics, but she is friendly to the killing machine.
When I say "killing machine," I do not only mean the blood-soaked military/industrial/energy complex. I mean all the institutions and industries that serve to uphold the patriarchy and its immoral drive for profit over the well-being of the earth and all creatures that dwell on it. The killing machine renders us helpless and dazed. We are guinea pigs to the pharmaceutical companies, indentured servants to the banks, addicts to the energy companies, criminals to the prison/industrial complex, patsies to the surveillance state.
Is Hillary solely responsible for this? Certainly not. There has been a long history of boys making deals with boys. It's only recently that girls could even dream of getting into the game of power, money and manipulation. But as First Lady, as Senator, as Secretary of State, she certainly has not done enough (for my taste) to curtail the killing machine. In many documented instances, she has helped to further its reach.
As First Lady, Hillary advocated strongly for her husband's welfare and crime bills. These are bills which one could argue have wrecked the lives of millions of women and their children. As Senator from New York, she voted for the War in Iraq. I was her constituent then, and I remember being with thousands of other people in the streets of Manhattan screaming, "No War for Oil." Why did she not hear us?
And what of our beautiful mother earth and the health of our bodies that dwell on it? As Secretary of State, Hillary represented fracking interests to foreign nations. She has alliances to Monsanto through the Clinton Global Initiative and is opposed to GMO labeling. She pledges to fight big Pharma, but takes huge donations from them. And she says that we will never have single-payer health care, not now, not ever. Needless to say, the health care industry is a major donor to her campaign.
I cannot vote for her because -- despite the fact that she is an icon for women and she has done much work for the rights and empowerment of women and girls -- my vagina is telling me "no."
A glass ceiling is only meaningful to a woman who can dream of looking up into it.
If women's rights are human rights, doesn't that mean all women? She was part and party of legislation and decisions which have hurt women, often the poorest and most vulnerable women, often women of color.
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton created an agenda of helping to advance women's rights, protect women from abuse and fight for economic equality. She introduced the grounbreaking idea that women's empowerment is key to US security. But while fighting for women's economic empowerment, she consistently sided with big business in its quest for cheap and easily exploited labor.
She spoke gravely about the importance of education and rights for women in the Middle East, but she was a supporter of Obama's drone program which has left thousands of women and children dead. She continued what we like to think of as a neo-con program of toppling autocratic regimes in order to establish puppet states friendly to US business interests. One authoritarian regime she (and the US imperialistic state) seems intent to preserve though is that of oil rich Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, which has given extremely generous gifts to the Clinton Foundation, has a record on human rights -- particularly women's rights -- which is not exactly stellar.
How can one be friends with those one is trying to fight? How does that work exactly? Can one "dismantle the master's house with the master's tools?"
Hillary is strong and tough, smart, accomplished, competent and ambitious. I admire her for that. She is more than capable of being a leader of the world, but her world is not the world I want to be led to.
And I know that Hillary herself has suffered at the hands of the patriarchy. I am revolted when I see the word "bitch" used repeatedly in social media to define her. I am appalled when I hear criticisms of her voice or speaking style. I feel disgust when I see photos of her which are purposefully distorted to make her look like a sinister hag. I cringe when I hear people call her evil. Is she anymore evil than so many of her male colleagues who have compromised and made backroom deals? Why is it so astonishing to us that a politician is corrupt?
What should be astonishing to us -- particularly given our current system -- is a politician who isn't.
I feel a little for Hillary. It is still really difficult for women to attain leadership positions in the old boy's club of politics. And women in public life face a potential barrage of relentless scrutiny. Possibly more intense and more personal than men do. We have vaginas, after all, and they must be probed. They must be controlled.
I feel for Hillary, but I feel more for my other sisters. I feel for women who are struggling to pay bills, who are in debt for medical care, for college educations. I feel for women living in poverty. I feel for women whose kids are ripped from them by the incarceration state. Or shot by police. I feel for women whose children have been killed by bombs or who have been made refugees by years of disastrous US policy in the Middle East. Or who are themselves dead.
So please do not tell me I am a self-hating female for seeing things this way.
Because ultimately, my decision to vote for Bernie Sanders has nothing to do with Hillary's vagina. It only has to do with mine.
And my vagina is telling me that Bernie is the less patriarchal candidate. The world he offers is the less patriarchal world. This is a world wherein power is diffused. Bernie's world is a cooperative world. A world of direct action and involvement. A world where the people's voices are stronger than the corporate voices. It is a fair world. It is a world wherein the poor are not penalized for poverty, but helped. It is a world with a more even playing field, where all children can get a fair chance. It is a world wherein people are not rewarded for corruption and the ultra-wealthy are simply not allowed to control our legislative process.
Is Bernie perfect? No. Will creating the world he offers be easy? No. But I am throwing my whole self, including my vagina, into the fight.