When I purchased Vote Her In at a local pop-up used book fair/outlet I was excited to learn more about feminism and find motivation to become politically active here in Chicago.
The author, Rebecca Sive’s, aim is clear: this book exists to motivate readers to unite together and elect the first woman president of the United States of America.
Voting more women into executive positions across party lines, no matter their race, religion, beliefs, or “agendas” (as I hear often in the media) will undoubtedly benefit all women.
I will be honest and clear by saying that I do not agree with every point Sive made, which you will read about later in this review. I am, however, inspired by her zeal and can see that she truly does believe that we all can only benefit by having more women in power and able to make the decisions that affect us all.
I felt challenged to consider my own internalized misogyny and whether I have the same expectations for women politicians that I do men. Sive does not try to shame readers nor imply that by disagreeing with her readers are anti-feminist or pick-me’s.
As a general disclaimer I will note that I am not promoting Vote Her In, nor do I mean to disparage it, if it comes across this way. I share my honest opinions and strive to never sugarcoat so that interested readers can make informed decisions.
You can agree or disagree with me, because we are entitled to our opinions ;0)
I did not like this book when I started reading it. The statement “she is a woman, which is apparently even worse than being a man of color” instantly made me regret my purchase (p.4).
This quote refers to Hillary Clinton’s loss of the 2016 presidential election to Donald J. Trump and her loss to Barack Obama as the Democratic party candidate in 2008.
Now, I am biased in favor of Obama because he was my president growing up as a child (I voted for him in our fake middle school elections), however, I found this quote extremely off-putting for one important reason. Her conclusion lacks intersectionality.
Intersectionality is where the roads of oppression intersect. In the case of Hillary Clinton, she is a woman, yes, and she is also a white woman. Barack Obama is a man who is also Black. To make her case that oppression against women is the main reason Hillary Clinton “lost to a less qualified man” she compared two people with different experiences of oppression. Essentially, being a woman is so looked down upon that even a white woman lost to a Black man. Say this aloud and hear how this sounds.
I just don’t believe you can compare experiences of oppression like a math equation. To say that Clinton lost because Obama is a man and has male privilege due to people’s positive beliefs towards men in power and negative opinions towards women in power, is one thing.
To say that race doesn’t influence the voting behaviors of the general public as much as gender does is simply wrong. And yet, the first half of the book focuses on proving why gender oppression tops all others.
Sive quotes Annette Gordon-Reed
(You can learn more about intersectionality and antiracism social justice work here at the African American Policy Forum’s website, founded by Kimberle’ Crenshaw herself.)
I understand that politics is complex and messy and that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, however, I believe in voting for the candidate whose policies and track record that aligns with my interests and hopes for the government. As an example, let’s consider race instead of gender:
Imagine an election between a white man and a Black man. Let’s say that the white candidate believes in canceling student loan debt, while the Black candidate believes that books with lgbtqia+ characters should be banned from all elementary and high schools.
Why would I vote for the Black candidate? Should I prioritize the fact that Black children would see this much-needed representation and recognize that they too can run the government? Should I assume that his policies would ultimately benefit the Black community in the end?
This book was published in 2018. Now in 2023, it’s a different world; and yet, it really isn’t. I have seen women in power in my lifetime, and even voted for some. I have seen them create policies and endorse legislation that act against my best-interest.
I don’t want to give up hope that as a voter I can have my cake and eat it too. I want to believe that I can vote for the person I want to win an election and see them voted in by the majority of people.
This review is already rather long so I will say that I do agree with Sive on the fact that it is time for more women to be in executive positions of power. It is also very true that many people would not vote for a woman candidate simply because they don’t believe women are equally qualified as men.
It’s possible that if I read this book when it came out my perspective would be different. She did include many action steps that I find helpful and I could tell that Rebecca Sive, the author, is incredibly passionate about her work as an activist. She has far more experience in public policy than I do, and she does cite her sources (which is always appreciated).
I would like to add that even this is still within a binary understanding of gender and that there is so much nuance when it comes to the decisions people make; in other words, race, gender, sexuality, wealth, etc. are all factors that play roles that do not win over one another. There is no ranking of oppression.
Let me know what you think in the comments below! Did you think I was too critical? Do you think we should vote women in office, no matter their political stance?