As a woman and a feminist, I feel obligated to support my female counterparts who strive to be successful in male-dominated fields. Although I will support them in fighting against abuse, threats, and oppression, I will not automatically support them in achieving their career goals just because they’re women.
Current Vice-President Academic Marina Banister is running for SU president. She’s one of the few women running in this year’s SU election and the only female running for president. She’s had more than her fair share of criticism, abuse, and threats as a female in student politics, including rape and death threats in her inbox because of her gender and appearance. I stand with her in trying to combat this type of response, and I commend her for trying to break the glass ceiling where it needs to be broken, especially in student governance. No one should have to experience this kind of response for being ambitious, but I also don’t think this abusive response alone should attract sympathy voters, let alone a specific group of voters.
Now, I’m not saying she expects the female vote or the sympathy vote — she doesn’t need either, and I have no idea if she expects anything. Nor am I suggesting that she is undeserving. She’s been successful this past academic year by initiating events like GovWeek and the Interdisciplinary Conference, as well as starting a governance podcast. She’s been a visible VPA and assertive in council. She has many accomplishments and received a B+ on The Gateway’s report card. But what I am saying is as a female, I feel obligated to support her without question simply because she’s a female candidate.
Feminism, and the multiplicity of popularized feminist movements, has so tediously become pro-women instead of pro-equality that I feel like I’d be turning against my fellow women by hypothetically supporting a male candidate. I know feminism is not anti-men, if it’s anti-anything it’s anti-inequality. But I also feel an obligation to stick with women rather than potentially side with men, even though this isn’t how feminism should be.
For feminism to really work and for equality to actually happen, we need to look at people for who they are and what they stand for. We need to look at both Banister and Bashir Mohamed’s campaign promises, what they’re advocating for in the forums, and what they stand for as student body representatives. I want to know what they will do not just for me, not just for women, not just for men, but for the student population at the U of A. And that is not and should not be a gendered or biased requirement.
I have no idea who I’m voting for yet for SU president. I still have time to figure it out, educate myself on Banister and Mohamed’s platforms, attend the forums, and listen to the presidential debates, as you all should do too. But if I do vote for Banister on March 8th and 9th, it’s not going to be because she’s a female candidate. It’d be because of her contributions thus far as a student politician, dedication to student governance, good platform points, ambition to fulfill campaign promises, good leadership abilities, and accurate representation of the student body at the U of A.
I’d vote for either Banister or Mohamed if they meet these requirements. If I do vote for Banister, it’s going to be because she’s doing all these things, and she just happens to be a woman.