Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for president was at once a landmark victory for feminism as well as a crushing defeat. Never before has a woman secured the nomination of a major political party let alone won a clear majority of votes cast; never before has such a piggish perpetrator of sexual assault won the presidency (at least, on the first go). With 53% of white women voting for the man who boasted about waltzing into dressing rooms of underage beauty contestants, feminism is at a reckoning.
That was the impetus behind the panel “Recovering from Our Hillary Hangover: Can Feminists Unite?” presented by Buzzfeed News and The Intercept. Moderator Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept, led the conversation, noting that she navigated the sexist double standards facing women in politics in her outlet’s often critical coverage of Clinton. Rebecca Traister, writer-at-large for New York Magazine, related how stark this double standard was. Previous presidential runs by women often failed because they lacked funds and support from political insiders, yet ties to Wall St donors and the establishment elite were the very baggage that sank Clinton’s campaign.
Features editor at The Nation Sarah Leonard tugged at this thread of populist aversion to corporate cash. “People want to know that you’re on their side,” Leonard suggested, and it was difficult to convince Americans that Clinton was fighting for them when she had taken millions from the banks that eradicated so much of the middle-class’s wealth. Leonard’s prescription for moving forward was a “feminism for the 99%” that appeals to women struggling to find a job, as well as respects the racial disparities facing women of color in this country. Winnie Wong, co-founder of People for Bernie, emphasized that feminism needs to be intersectional if it’s going to stay relevant during the Trump administration. “I’m arguably the most famous Bernie bro out there,” she said slyly, “and I’m an Asian female.” Let’s keep it that way.