With the current race between the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates heating up, the Seattle University Wingmen decided to spice things up with their event “Gender in Politics: Bernie Bros Welcome.”
The organization’s core team is made up of adviser Jazz Espiritu and members Nicolás Cruz, Michael Clymer and Connor Crinion. While the group is still figuring out their main focus, much of the events previously put on have been centered around our culture and exploring the meaning of masculinity.
“I don’t think we’re trying to tear down all gender and say no more gender,” Cruz said. “But I think we’re saying, how do we make it so that there are many more ways to be either a man or even a person who is exploring gender in general.”
Wingmen holds a meeting open for discussion every other week on various topics. The topic of gender in politics was aptly chosen considering the ongoing primaries.
The discussion began with an examination of the current gender composition of the United States. America is advertised as a democracy, of, by and for the people, yet our current 114th Congress is not very reflective of our current population.
According to World Bank Data, about 50.4 percent of the U.S. population is female, yet the House of Representatives is 80.6 percent male and the Senate is 80 percent male. Additionally, 6 states currently have a female-identified governor.
“I can’t be fully represented or understood by old, white males, and not even just as president,” freshman Claudia Meno said. “Where are my fellow sisters at who actually wield governmental power? Because I don’t see them.”
While complicated factors influence these statistics, the conversation begged the question whether gender actually influenced policy and the current presidential campaign.
“It’s hard to say whether the responses toward policies from Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are due to gender or not,” Cruz said. “We need to be clear about what role gender has.”
Both sides of the Democratic presidential campaign have had sexist undertones and have faced criticism.
While the recent remarks from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on there being “a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” has received both praise and backlash, it raises the question on how far support because of gender should extend. The conversation attempted to reason whether a vote for Clinton on the sole basis that she is a woman was a justified vote.
There also exists the matter of Bernie Bros, a term used to classify male supporters of Sanders. Several critics have attacked this group for sexist rhetoric throughout the campaign.
Identity politics is never a subject easily traversed, but the idea that the political playing field is even for all contenders is not a generalization that can be widely accepted.
The event concluded with a brief conversation around the “Women for Trump” campaign. Despite some of Trump’s views being interpreted as blatantly against the betterment of women, he has accumulated a rather large following of women in Tuscon, Arizona.
“The Group,” as they call themselves, admires Trump’s strong personality and appreciate his “transparency” that he’s displayed throughout the election.
The question of whether gender bias significantly impacts the results of this election remains to be seen.
“I honestly wish people would place less emphasis on who is what gender, and focus on making their vote count,” freshman AJ Johnson said. “At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to make a difference. Not male or female identities, but policy.”
Vikki may be reached at [email protected]