I’ve admired Linda Hirshman‘s work in the past, but her recent Slate column accusing young female Obama supporters — including TAP online contributor Courtney Martin — of having "Mommy issues" is terribly reductionist. You can read Martin’s response here, in which she thoughtfully points out that like men, women (even feminist women) are a diverse group who will never vote as a single bloc. But I really think the intergenerational divide between liberal women when it comes to these two Democratic candidates is rather simple to explain. Here are a few substantive explanations with which Hirshman and others who advance her argument should grapple:
1. Young, politically-engaged women are more likely to have been against the Iraq war since 2002 than older women are. And polls show that those young, single women who initially supported the war were among the first Americans to turn against it. Barack Obama has been consistent since the invasion in his opposition to war in Iraq. Hillary Clinton continues to refuse to apologize for her war authorization vote.
2. Generation Y is the most multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial demographic in American history. In Barack Obama, who is biracial and has written about his personal struggle with identity politics, many young voters see themselves — or an idealized version of themselves.
3. Obama’s campaign excites young activists in part because it’s a campaign about organizing. Indeed, Obama’s career began as an inner city community organizer, and his campaign today is offering a summer organizing fellowship.
4. There’s no denying that Obama is the new, fresh face in this campaign, and that young people like that sort of thing. ‘Nuff said.
In short, feminism is important to many young women who are sympathetic to Obama. Feministing, for example, a website for which the Obama-supporting Martin writes, also features a regular "Hillary Sexism Watch," which defends the Senator from misogynist attacks. Hirshman should realize that when a young woman votes for Obama, it isn’t necessarily an anti-Hillary vote — and certainly probably isn’t an anti-woman, anti-feminist, anti-mom vote.
cross-posted at TAPPED