When I first made it clear early in the election cycle that I was a Hillary Clinton supporter, people already knew I was a feminist. Upon my declaration of my presidential choice, I was shocked by the rage directed at me, even from my closest friends, who are Democrats themselves. One close friend (a Bernie Sanders supporter) asked, “Are you just supporting Hillary because she’s a woman?” He, an outspoken liberal feminist, like me, was suddenly acting as if my opinion wasn’t valid. What was going on? I felt affronted, and replied with a defiant, “No. I support her because I think she’s the most qualified.”
I noticed this rift more and more as the election season progressed. Along with bringing out the worst in the candidates – for example, Donald Trump’s and Ted Cruz’s various racist remarks – it brought out the worst in the general public. All of a sudden, everyone seemed so divided, even within the same party.
I had once felt welcomed and in harmony with my Democratic friends, but now I felt like an outsider. There were so many double standards: If you were a Bernie supporter you were “progressive” but a “communist,” and if you were a Hillary supporter you were “moving the country forward” yet holding it back because she was “untrustworthy.” I had thought my Democrat friends and I were working together to change the world for the better, and all of a sudden we were torn apart.
This election also brought to light for me what it means to be a feminist, because I could finally understand why so many people claim that they aren’t. From the start of the election run-up, you could look all over Instagram and see “If you’re a feminist, vote for Hillary!” and “If you’re a real feminist, vote for Bernie!” What happened to the definition of feminism that I learned? The definition that expressed the mere belief that there should be equality of the sexes? That anyone’s opinion, regardless of their gender, is valid. Where did all of these other requirements come from?
Election year was supposed to be a year in which we could move our country forward. Instead, we held it back by getting so caught up in our own opinions that we completely disrespected others. There was division instead of unity and labeling instead of freedom.
I do not support Hillary because I am a feminist. I support her because she is my choice for president.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.