On Friday, Susan Sarandon made yet another inane contribution to this already absurd election when she explained why she’s not backing Hillary Clinton by saying, “I don’t vote with my vagina. This is bigger than that.”
This accusation has been a running theme in this election — the idea that women who support Clinton are clearly not capable of using their brains and must have relegated this monumentally consequential decision to their genitals. It’s an insult to women, vaginas, and Clinton, all rolled into one.
Frankly, I’ve had enough of it.
It pisses me off for two reasons: One, it’s just insulting. Two — this is far more important — it disparages and discourages something women absolutely should be doing in this election.
What this insidious insult suggests is that womanhood is not relevant in politics or civic life — that the reality of being a woman in a patriarchal society should not influence one’s perspective or priorities.
And that is perhaps the biggest lie of the 2016 election.
When it comes to the state of our country, here’s what my vagina knows that Susan Sarandon doesn’t:
- Women still do not receive equal pay for equal work.
- Women are sorely underrepresented in leadership roles. We are not in the room as the future is being shaped.
- Women bear the burden of balancing work and family. We live in the only developed nation that does not guarantee paid parental leave.
- Access to safe abortion is under constant threat.
- Rape is a very real threat for women in our society, and it runs rampant on college campuses where young women are still developing a sense of self.
- Women are killed by intimate partner violence at disturbingly high rates. Trans women are even more likely to be killed or discriminated against.
All of those problems are politics. All of them require a vote to change.
This election has brought the misogynistic rage boiling under the surface of our country to the fore. It has painfully reminded us, every day, that women are not yet equal. Racism and sexism are the two biggest predictors that someone will support Trump, and the double standard has been on display in every assessment of Clinton. I have been most disappointed to see that sexism is alive and well on both sides of the aisle.
Womanhood remains an essential factor in politics, and women must remember that at the polls.
If we don’t vote for people and policies that will help us progress and thrive in what we call the land of the free, then we are complicit in our own subjugation. Asking a woman not to vote with her vagina is asking her to strip away one of the most defining facts that shapes her life experience and opportunities. It’s asking her to pretend that our society is already unequivocally equal, and that no candidate could threaten her equality or opportunity.
That is damaging to women, and it is damaging to the ideal of a free and equal country.
The reason we make progress is because marginalized groups fight for political change and vote for candidates — at the national and local levels — who will help further those causes.
So I would like to state for the record that, on November 8, I will proudly vote with my vagina.
My vagina, in collaboration with my brain, has thoroughly assessed the candidates, and together, they have agreed that Hillary Clinton is a pragmatic, even-tempered, fiercely intelligent policy wonk who always shows up prepared. She has decades of experience and a proven ability to work across the aisle — a vital skill in divided times like these. She supports policies that help women succeed, such as access to abortion, equal pay, and paid family leave. She is a tireless advocate for human rights, and she is widely respected abroad.
No other candidate comes close.
Regardless of your politics, representation matters. Diverse voices — women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants — must be part of the conversation if we want any hope of shaping a more equal world. We all come to the table with unique perspectives and experiences that can help us solve our most intractable problems with clarity, creativity, and respect. It is the ultimate expression of the American promise to vote for representation at the highest levels of government.
When the polls open on Tuesday morning, may nasty women everywhere vote with their vaginas.