Here’s Why You Should Vote With Your Vagina

Voting with your vagina — for a vagina. Could anything be more sinister?

The vagina’s mythic status — terrifyingly powerful and, as a devouring vagina dentata, a perennial threat to men — has manifest in the 2016 campaign as a point of contention concerning women’s support for Hillary Clinton. A patriarchal ploy to keep women divided, women have been harangued for “voting with their vagina,” as a way to both undermine their political agency and specifically their support for other women. “Here’s what the ‘voting with your genitals’ accusation is really telling other women,” LENNY’s Editor-in-Chief Jessica Grose asserted, “you’re too hysterical to use your pretty head.”

“Nothing gets me angrier than when someone implies I’m voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she’s female,” Lena Dunham said at a Clinton campaign event in Iowa City this past January. “[It’s] as if I have some feminist version of beer-goggles, lets call it ‘estrogen blindness,’ and I just kind of walk like a zombie towards the nearest vagina. This assumption is condescending at best and it is sharply misogynistic at worst.”

Not to mention that the inverse could be contended: Men, historically, have voted with their penises for other men because they are afraid of powerful, intelligent women. The same holds true for their support of Bernie.

Because #BrosBeforeDemocraticHos, amirite?

Yet the idle and immature criticism of the “Vagina Vote” holds some credence when thinking through a feminist lens. If feminisms is an ideology — rather than just a trend visually abetted by yummy signifiers like “pizza” and “cupcakes” — then surely there is a politics to voting with one’s vagina? To be precise, feminism as an ideology espouses gender equality, which is attained under the law. Gender equality is measurable through equal representation in politics, and through laws that provide equal rights and benefits to both men and women. And studies suggest a correlation between gender parity in politics and the increased political equality of women. The same holds true for constitutional and legal rights — which is why the Notorious RBG won’t be satisfied until there are nine female justices on the Supreme Court. Or, just take a look at the court transcript for Whole Women’s Health vs. Hellerstadt to get a sense of how the three female Supreme Court justices are singlehandedly salvaging women’s right to choose.

“Women in political office make it a priority to advance rights, equality and opportunity for women and girls, in a way and to a degree that men in power overwhelmingly do not,” Nancy L. Cohen wrote in an op-ed for the L.A. Times. Citing a Georgetown University study, she continues, “Democratic and Republican women will offer three times more feminist bills than their male counterparts.”

This statistical difference bespeaks the feminist case for “voting with your vagina” and, specifically in 2016, voting for Hillary Clinton. Li Zhou, in an incredibly discerning analysis of how Clinton has spent a career putting women first at the Atlantic, writes: “For decades, Clinton has prioritized bills and policies promoting reproductive rights, equal pay, and family leave — far more so than Sanders. This is not to say that Sanders has not supported such legislation or practices. The key difference is that, for him, they simply haven’t been as much of a priority.” For example, Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock explained her support for Clinton in a piece at Medium in terms of her prioritizing of reproductive rights and reproductive justice; whereas for Sanders “treats abortion rights like an afterthought.”

And here is the key difference between Clinton and Sanders: Clinton understands that the long arc of equal rights in America are identity based. The first people in the United States to have full rights in this country were land-owning white men. The evolution and expansion of constitutional rights in America have been done so on the basis of identity. Take the 13th, 14th, or 15th Amendments — or the 19th Amendment. Interestingly, abolitionists and suffragists knew as much in the midnineteeth century, when, after contentious debate, they agreed they would fight for black men to get the right to vote first over (white) women. “I hope in time . . . to add that last clause ‘sex’!! But this hour belongs to the negro,” abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared in an anti-slavery editorial published in 1865. Likewise, laws are created to discriminate against a particular group of people — DOMA, for instance, specifically targeted gay Americans. The current round of bathroom bills specifically target trans people.

Read the entire (emended) piece at Quartz: qz.com/664475