Friday, February 1, 2008

One often hears the old adage (actually I don't know that it qualifies as an adage, but I will use the word anyway) that states that men and women cannot be friends without sex getting in the way. Whether you agree with this statement or not is beside the point here; my guess is that you have most likely heard it. What about women being friends with women, though? Is that possible? With our two most noted (and most historically different) democratic presidential candidates getting fervent daily attention, I have found myself wondering more and more frequently whether or not Clinton will get any support from her fellow females. Will she be a rallying point for women everywhere who are undoubtedly keen to support someone of their gender, or will she instead suffer as a result of this shared trait?

That is not to say that just because a woman is a woman that she should vote for Hilary Clinton. My question here is really whether a woman who would vote for a male candidate with views and opinions absolutely, 100% identical to Clinton's would vote for Hilary Clinton, or whether this same voter would be deterred on the basis of Clinton's gender.

So far, it seems like the primaries are unable to answer this question. In certain states, the majority of the female vote has gone to Clinton while in others, it hasn't. There doesn't seem to be any clear pattern of support or rejection. And yet on a daily basis on my college campus, I see posters for rallies where women are to "raise [their] voice for Obama". Fliers encouraging young women to do the same for Clinton are conspicuously absent.

Growing up I always noticed that women are capable of creating strong bonds with each other, but they are also just as capable of severing those bonds in nasty, vicious ways. I strongly value the stable friendships that I am fortunate to have with other women, but I have also had my fair share of catty rejection and seemingly inexplicable refusal. To a certain degree, it seems that women cannot support each other--perhaps something gets in the way? I do not know what the explanation is for the bizarre relationships that tend to develop between women. Are they inevitably affected by jealousy, envy, a secret desire that your close friend will, at some point, falter or fail? At that point, we women willingly take up the role of support, cheerleader, whatever it is our friend needs; however, we do not all respond the same way to a friend's success. I want to stress again that this is not true of all women; perhaps this is what makes it more surprising that this tendency would exist at all.

So I continue to wonder: will Clinton end up being the ugly duckling because there is something at stake if she succeeds? Will a possible female inclination toward jealousy directed at other women who are perceived to be more successful prevent my sex from voting for the candidate they really support? I guess time will tell.

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