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Fri Dec 13, 2019, 01:23 PM


Elizabeth Warren's Stealth Feminism

...as the 2020 race unfolds, with Warren as the leading female candidate, the question of just how a woman should pursue an office that has only been occupied by a man has swirled around her. It is a tough truth that full-throated feminism could help Warren in the Democratic primary but hurt her in the general election. And although she might strike voters as similar to Hillary Clinton—a fellow lawyer who came of age in the same era, policy-driven and hyperprepared—Warren’s approach to feminism, and to what it means to run as a woman in 2019, is harder to define. But her history in Texas and afterward offers clues.

Warren, who was born in 1949, was a kid sister growing up in post-war Oklahoma. “She has three older brothers, which is significant,” says her friend Elizabeth Vale, who worked with Warren at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency Warren launched after the financial crisis. That Warren, during her formative years, was obliged to play in what we might call male spaces, is—Vale speculates—part of the key to who she became. Rather than build a feminist critique of the power structure or set about dismantling the patriarchy by taking on sex discrimination cases, Warren chose to enter male fields and compete toe-to-toe.

Another Texas colleague, Jay Westbrook, uses the phrase “tomboy” to describe her: the kind of scrappy, two-fisted girl who enjoys competing with the boys, loath to complain about getting scratched and scraped in the fray. By adopting this approach, Warren has lived a compelling story of confronting and surmounting just about every impediment the past seven decades have presented to high-achieving women—but it’s a story that could seem to have unfolded in a world parallel to, and apart from, the organized feminist movement. For much of her career, she has not been a vocal champion of women’s rights, her rhetoric more muted than candidates like New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand or Hillary Clinton. “I don’t think she has a specific gender lens,” Vale says.

...That she is amping up the feminist volume might be because she feels freer, even obliged, to do so in a post-#MeToo era. Part of it, too, is surely because she must distinguish herself from her male rivals in a competitive primary. But maybe Warren’s enhanced outspokenness is not quite the pivot it seems. Without saying so, Warren long has practiced a kind of stealth feminism, gravitating toward the epicenter of male power in order to attack it from within. As both a law professor and a politician, her key targets—banks, billionaires and Big Tech—represent the chief remaining bastions of male privilege and wealth, while fields like law and medicine have been thoroughly feminized. Warren’s signature issue—a “wealth tax”—would fall harder on men, insofar as there are more male billionaires than female ones. If “angry” is the code word lobbed at powerful women, Warren deploys “billionaire” as code for powerful men.

...As Warren’s surge in the polls fades, she faces an existential moment. She remains one of the top four Democratic candidates, and the only woman among them; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has been stuck in the single digits. Klobuchar has permitted herself to blame her own standing at least in part on sexism, noting, “Women are held to a higher standard.” Which is true, but not entirely: There are new and very real advantages to being a female candidate in America today. Yet, it would be a mistake to underestimate the extent to which female authority figures trigger hostility in sectors of the electorate. And women themselves are hardly monolithic; when Warren tweeted about billionaires, there materialized a thread of responses accusing her of pandering—presumably, to female voters—and others accusing her of not pandering enough. As she attempts to find her voice on women’s rights, Warren seems to be defining feminism as confronting the male ruling class, especially its economic entitlement, head-on, but not always in an explicitly gendered way. And she is showing how that is done.

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:

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Reply Elizabeth Warren's Stealth Feminism (Original post)
BeyondGeography Dec 2019 OP
TidalWave46 Dec 2019 #1

Response to BeyondGeography (Original post)

Fri Dec 13, 2019, 01:31 PM

1. Marking to read later.


Warren takes women's issues into consideration in almost every policy she puts forward. She understands the problems are systemic and a part of just about every aspect of governance and society. I have said that I think the perfect response for any male candidate, when asked a general question about women's rights or issues, should say: "Please ask Elizabeth Warren that question and take that as my answer."
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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