Recently a good friend and longtime feminist told me that she didn't vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton in our state's primary a few weeks ago. Somewhat surprised, I asked her why. She explained that while she wanted to see a woman as president very badly, she believed it had to be the right woman — and that for her, it was not Hillary Clinton. I asked her if she felt like a "traitor." She said no, because she believed that part of being a feminist was that you didn't have to vote for a woman based on her gender alone.
The issue of gender and the Democratic presidential primary has gotten pretty heated in the past few weeks. Many Clinton supporters believe that their candidate has not been given a fair shake from the mainstream media - that they treat and speak about her differently than they do Sen. Barack Obama.
And when a prominent women's group endorses Obama, like NARAL did recently, it almost leads to internecine warfare. For instance, the president of Emily's List, which helps elect female candidates who favor abortion rights, called the endorsement "a betrayal." And today, The Boston Globe reports that 50 prominent Massachusetts politicians have called on NARAL president Nancy Keenan to withdraw the endorsement of Obama. The Massachusetts group says Clinton has a better pro-abortion rights record than her Democrat rival.
For her part, Keenan didn't budge, saying that Obama needed the help of organizations like NARAL, to "help close the identification gap with key voting constituencies before the fall campaign begins in earnest and people's opinions are already formed about the two candidates."
On today's show, we'll talk with representatives from both NARAL and Emily's List about this issue.
But what do you think? Does gender matter to you? If you consider yourself a feminist, do you think you have a "duty" to vote for the first woman to have a realistic chance of becoming president? If not, why?