"I intend to vote with my vagina."
Have you ever read a more squirm-inducing sentence than that? It appeared in a pro-Hillary piece in Dame magazine, written by a person with a vagina who intends to vote for Clinton because she also has a vagina.
Let's leave aside the unfortunate image conjured up by that sentence ("You can hold a pencil with that thing?!") The bigger problem with such unabashed declarations of "vagina voting" is that they confirm the descent of feminism into the cesspool of identity politics, even biologism, and its abandonment of the idea that women should be valued more for their minds than their anatomy.
Kate Harding, the vagina voter in question, isn't only going to vote with her vag—she's also going to tell everyone about it. "I intend to vote with my vagina. Unapologetically. Enthusiastically… And I intend to talk about it," she wrote in Dame.
She thinks Hillary would be a great president because she "knows what it's like to menstruate, be pregnant, [and] give birth."
So you're going to pick your leader on the basis of her biological functions, the fact she's experienced the same bodily stuff as you? Imagine if a man did that. "I'm voting for Ted Cruz because he knows what it's like to spunk off. And he knows the pain of being kicked in the balls." We'd think that was a very sad dude indeed. Why is it any better for a female commentator to wax lyrical about voting on the basis of her biological similarity to a candidate rather than any shared political outlook?
The point of Harding's pussy politics, as I think we should call this biologism among some in the Hillary camp, is to say that it would be a brilliant, symbolic breakthrough if the U.S. were to have its first-ever female president.
It would be "enormously important," she says. "American women have been bleeding for over 200 years"—again with the blood!—"and a lot of us have arrived at the point where we just want someone with a visceral, not abstract, concept of what that means."
There's something profoundly sexist in this. Hillary is valued, not for her ability to think abstractly, which is the very essence of politics, but for what she represents viscerally—the visceral being, in the words of the Oxford English Dictionary, the bowels, "the seat of emotion."
A hundred years ago, the precise same view of women as visceral rather than abstract creatures was used as an argument against having them in the political realm.
In 1910, the London-based journal The Anti-Suffrage Review said women have difficulty "forming abstract ideas." "Woman is emotional," it said, "and government by emotion quickly degenerates into injustice." Yet now, a century later, the potential first woman president of the U.S. is hailed by some for her visceral—"not abstract," in Harding's words—understanding of women's lives and everyday issues. To stick with the biological-function theme, modern feminism is pooping all over the suffragettes, who fought tooth-and-nail against the valuation of their viscera over their brains.
Harding's pussy politics is only a more physical, blood-obsessed version of one of the main arguments coming from Hillary's cheerleaders in the media: that she deserves to be elected because she's a woman, because she has a vagina.
In response to the claim that Hillary is "playing the gender card," Jessica Valenti says "good," adding "I hope she plays the gender card so hard…" Valenti writes about "the very important, symbolic and necessary vision of the first woman president," and says "that's a gender card I'd play again and again." In short, she's voting with her vagina.
Chelsea Clinton says her mother's femaleness is "absolutely important for…symbolic reasons." Nancy Pelosi says Hillary's sex should also be a "very major consideration" for voters, because of the brilliant gravity of "what it would mean to elect a woman president of the United States." In short, vote with your vaginas. Or if you're in the unfortunate position of having a dick, then at least give "very major consideration" to the fact that Hillary is a woman and vote for her accordingly. Think about what is in this woman's knickers rather than what is in her mind.
Over at Bustle magazine, Gabrielle Moss continues the suffragette-defaming fashion for elevating women's biology over their brains, admitting she will be "voting with my emotions" and eschewing the "clear-eyed political rationality that so many of the men around me [claim] to possess."
She says her vote for Clinton won't be "based on a clear-eyed, unemotional review of her political track record," nor on a "clear-eyed assessment of all possible Democratic candidates," but rather will be an expression of the "intense personal connection" she feels with Hillary as a woman. They both have vaginas, you see.
Here, again, the very thing the suffragettes street-fought against—the idea that women are too emotional to partake in abstract politics—is bizarrely rehabilitated as a badge of honour. I'm a woman, and therefore I'm visceral, and I will vote for a woman. Vaginas of the World, Unite!
The rise of vagina voting, and the centrality of gender to the whole Hillary shebang, shows how dominant the politics of identity has become in the space of just eight years.
Back in 2007/2008, Hillary bristled at the idea that she should big up her gender and make a major display of her femaleness. "I'm not running as a woman," she told an audience in Iowa. Now, however, she is running as a woman—selling herself as a grandmother, peppering her campaign launch video with women of every age and hue—and she's celebrated for doing so.
In 2008 she "struggled against the idea" that she was representing a particular gender, says the Guardian, among the Clinton family's most fawning fans, but this time she's putting "gender at the forefront of her presidential race," the paper's coverage says, approvingly. Or as one news report put it: "Ms Clinton played down the gender role the first time she ran for the top job. But this time it's expected to be a core plank of her campaign."
This embrace of the gender card by Clinton and her cronies, this move from thinking with their heads to voting with their vaginas, is being celebrated as a great leap forward. It's nothing of the sort. It merely confirms the speedy and terrifying shrinking of the political sphere in recent years, with the abstract being elbowed aside by the emotional, and the old focus on ideas and values now playing a very quiet second fiddle to an obsession with identity.
The celebration of a potential president on the basis of her natural characteristics shows that the growing vacuum where big and serious ideas ought to be is being filled with biologism, with a view of people as little more than bundles of genes, accidents of birth, colors, sexes, genders. The rotten thing that human beings struggled against for generations—the tendency to judge individuals by their biology rather than their talents and beliefs—has made a comeback under the banner of identity politics.
In 2001, The Onion did one of its brilliant "American Voices" polls on the question of Hillary standing for the presidency in 2004. One of the respondents, the white guy in the suit, says: "A woman president? What if she menstruates all over some important legislation?"
So as recently as 2001, talking about Hillary as someone who menstruates was recognised to be a sexist throwback to that old, dark era when women were treated as animalistic, and not as capable of abstract reasoning as men; today, the fact that Hillary "knows what it's like to menstruate" is presented as a serious reason to vote for her. Meet the vagina voters, the new sexists, reducing women to bits of flesh as thoroughly as those hoary old misogynists were doing a hundred years ago.