Do you want a revolution? Then cast your eyes to a different future landscape and eschew the system as we know it, a system many feminists refer to as patriarchy. Stepping out of the system of patriarchal thought as we know it and taking risks for women around the world is transformational.
“You say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world.”
This Beatles song reminds us that wanting change is nothing new. However, buzzword change has great power and it is one of the topics of today’s campaign for the presidency.
There are two distinctly different candidates fighting for the Democratic nomination – one fights within the male system and the other fights to change it.
Do you want a revolution? Then cast your eyes to a different future landscape and eschew the system as we know it, a system many feminists refer to as patriarchy. If you look closely you will see that that agent of change is Hillary and not Bernie.
Hillary has been in the political landscape for decades and some of her early successes seem like plain common sense to many. But, social change is revolutionary before the society adopts the change. Once we wrap our heads around a new way of thinking – gay marriage, abortion rights, integration – the once controversial ideas become part of our culture.
Hillary’s 1997 words in her speech that women’s rights are human rights had never been spoken by a FLOTUS on so large a stage as the Beijing Women’s Conference. They were shocking. Those words transformed the women in that audience who then went back to their countries where women are subjugated and stood on solid ground and continued fighting. It shifted the political landscape for women globally and our understanding of women’s rights has been altered for the better.
After this speech, her work on sexual trafficking was ignited by listening to women at a conference that she and others, including Madeleine Albright, organized for women. After listening to women from communities in Ukraine where whole villages were missing young women due to traffickers, Hillary brought the concept of trafficking of women and girls to the world stage. Then came legislation.
Legislation introduced by President Bill Clinton to combat sexual trafficking was discussed at a White House ceremony on International Women’s Day, where then-First Lady Hillary Clinton said, “We must give voice to the more than one million women who are trafficked every year…”
Now, years later, we all know that sexual trafficking of women and children is real. But in 1998 this was uncharted territory and Hillary was at the forefront.
We adopted the change.
Stepping out of the system of patriarchal thought as we know it and taking risks for women around the world is transformational.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act that so many praise President Barack Obama for signing into law was a bill co-sponsored not by then-Senator Obama or even Senator Bernie Sanders. It was then-Senator Hillary Clinton who was the co-sponsor and one of the leaders of that fight. On the Senate floor in 2007, she talked about the importance of the bill and said she hoped that the Senate would “stand up for fundamental fairness in the workplace.”
And today on this campaign trail for the Democratic nominee, Lilly Ledbetter is endorsing Hillary, not Bernie, for president.
But standing in a room and reading a speech is not evidence of someone who will change anything. Let’s take a deeper look at our two Democratic candidates.
The Brady Bill was controversial because it required background checks for buying a gun. The NRA mobilized all its forces and millions of dollars to fight it. Senator Bernie Sanders voted ‘no’ on the Brady Bill; that’s right – Sanders voted against the Brady Bill. And, interestingly, he was to the right of President Ronald Reagan on the Brady Bill because Reagan supported that bill.
Voting against the Brady Bill is not the vote of an outsider, it was a vote to maintain the system as it was, one that favored gun manufacturers.
Fast forward to 2005 when Bernie voted with Republicans to protect gun sellers and manufacturers from lawsuits when a crime has been committed with a gun.
Bernie recently said, when asked about that vote, that his reasons were “complicated.” He is now co-sponsoring legislation to repeal this law, not because he took it upon himself to do this, but because this vote is hurting his candidacy.
This is not an example of transformational change.
Recently, Bernie Sanders was called out by the League of Conservation voters and AARP for wrongly placing their logos on his mailers implying, to potential voters, that he was endorsed by these groups. Both non-profit organizations issued statements demanding that he stop using the logos as they did not endorse him.
This is not transformational, nor is it ethical.
To many progressives, Planned Parenthood is not considered part of the patriarchy. But after Hillary received their endorsement Bernie was mad and and called them the “establishment.” If he has disdain for Planned Parenthood why would he ever fight for them?
When I hear Bernie Sanders supporters in a rally yelling that Hillary is a liar I have to ask myself just what type of transformation do these supporters want from Bernie?
We can make fundamental change for the world if we have the guts to fight for all women. If you fight for women’s rights, but ultimately stay within the patriarchal system you are merely window dressing.
Only true actions, beyond speeches, create change. So let’s listen to see which candidate is truly calling for that.
Jennifer Hall Lee is a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. She has spent many years working on Hollywood films, in visual effects, and used her free time (when she had it!) making her own films. Her latest film, “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” is being distributed nationally and she has public screenings scheduled through 2016. Jennifer was named Global Ambassador for the Global Media Monitoring Project. To schedule an interview with Jennifer or book her as a speaker, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jennifer is also a contributor to the new Amazon bestseller, Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox (She Writes Press).