The Clare Spark Blog

June 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton and second wave feminism: Looking Backwards

Suffragettes, NYT, 1921

Suffragettes, NYT, 1921

Mrs. Clinton’s most recent rollout relied on two elements of sentimentality*: the log cabin rags-to-riches theme made famous by the Jacksonians, and the tribute to her mother and grandmother in the closing moments of her speech, thus linking her to the white-garbed, very pure tail end of first wave feminists who struggled for Votes for Women.

This is what the second wave of feminism hath wrought: a woman riding on the coattails of a former president, and a woman demanding to be the first person of her gender to hold the highest office of the land.

Forget her silence about trade deals and foreign policy, even though, were she elected, she would be commander-in-chief of the military, whose connection to foreign relations needs no mention here.. Because any famous woman will do, especially if she mouths aging communist platitudes such as income inequality. After all, the second wave feminists came out of the antiwar movement that has never lost its glamour for Hollywood producers and writers—just look at the highly touted series Aquarius, alleging darkly that unspeakable atrocities were visited on the peasants of Viet Nam, and developing the theme that Charlie Manson was in league with murderous, crypto-gay, impure Republicans.

“Rags to Riches” late 19th C.

The Clinton speech took its own swipe at (reactionary) Republicans as the enemies of the Progress that she associates with “the workers” who are now magically absorbed into the “middle class” that she so aggressively defends, as if we remained mired in the Middle Ages when small producers were the objects of elite defenders of the status quo.

It is the role of ideology to create consensus, but at what price?

* Sentiment reformism bases its appeal on a purified, transformed heart, evading the appeal to a change of mind, by contrast, rational appeals based on increased understanding of policy. Sentimental reformism is hence irrational.

Movie poster, 1941

Movie poster, 1941

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