Former First Lady Michelle Obama told an audience this week that, “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.” This follows remarks from Hillary Clinton herself similarly criticizing women who voted against her as being weak.
It is as if these former First Ladies believe no woman could ever choose to oppose a liberal politician if the politician happens to be a woman. And that if a woman decides to be conservative, she doesn’t count as a woman any longer. The hashtag #ShePersisted doesn’t seem to apply when it’s conservative women standing up or liberal women doing the silencing. Unfortunately, this attitude is often widespread on American college campuses.
In partnership with Campus Reform, the Network of enlightened Women (NeW) (see affiliation in my bio) asked students at George Washington University on video what they thought about conservative women and how conservative women are treated on campus. When asked “what would you say about conservative women,” students replied:
“Not many nice things…needing more enlightenment.”
“The conservative women are sortof looked at as anti-women.”
“Personally, I think they’re just like not educated or maybe hiding something. I don’t know, there has to be something wrong.”
One student said of the campus response to conservative women, “This kindof sucks, I feel like if you are a conservative woman…people don’t really respect you as much and they are kindof harsh to you.”
Yes, it does “suck.” This is why NeW launched a #ShesConservative social media campaign this month as part of which college women wearing “This Is What A Conservative Looks Like” shirts submit photos and essays and then share them on social media with the hashtag #ShesConservative. These women are standing up proudly for conservatism, showing that conservative women exist on campus and encouraging more young women to speak out as conservatives.
In her essay, Danielle Root, a senior at the University of South Florida, wrote:
I’m not going to lie; being a conservative woman in this day and age is a very tough thing. You have to constantly put up with the interrogation from your ‘fellow’ students as to why you think the way you do; like you have a disease of some sort.
Andrea Maldonado, a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, wrote:
Stepping into the highly liberal climate of my college campus freshman year I was presented with some challenges that I never expected. As a conservative woman, I quickly realized that my opinion was automatically regarded as incorrect or at the very least uninformed. From professors and their snide in-class comments to the brazen judgements of other students, it was made very clear that a conservative opinion was not welcome. It blew my mind that a community full of such diverse and intellectual individuals could only support a limited range of views.
Danielle and Andrea are right. It’s tough being a conservative woman in some circles. It’s time for the campus environment to change so that fewer women have an experience like Danielle or Andrea.
That change starts with feminism. In her essay, Emily Hall, a senior at Harvard University, explains why feminism is partly to blame:
I am conservative. I am a woman. I am an undergraduate student at Harvard. These three parts of my identity are not in conflict with one another; yet, their intersection too often is questioned by my peers. It seems as though the numerous intelligent, conservative, female role models go unnoticed by most women on campus today. Instead, feminism has devolved into a mass of identity politics and an intersectionality that feels like a contest to see who suffers from the most victimhood. That’s not my feminism—it’s not what I believe in and it’s not what my many role models believe in. I’m proud to instead be part of a movement that can lift up women without driving down men, a movement that celebrates the accomplishments of incredible, trailblazing women like Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice, Carly Fiorina, and Nikki Haley.
#ShesConservative is just a snapshot of that movement. It’s a way to show that we are proud of being conservative and we aren’t afraid to stand up to the liberal orthodoxy on college campuses and in young professional circles across the country.
Obama and Clinton need to learn that they don’t have a monopoly on the women’s empowerment movement. Many women self-identify as conservative specifically because they believe conservative policies are better for women. These are the women who are truly persisting in today’s political climate.