In an interview with the Cairo Review of Global Affairs published today, acclaimed gender theorist Judith Butler criticizes Hillary Clinton’s “limited” feminism and “hawkish” foreign policy, but says she will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in part because Republican candidate Donald Trump is a “massive danger to democracy as we know it.”“I would at this point vote for Hillary,” Butler says, “I don’t care whether you like Hillary or you don’t like Hillary. You can hold your nose and vote for someone. I’m really not a purist. I think one has to look at the consequences and wage your bets.”
Butler, author of seminal texts such as “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity,” is the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley.
Butler said, “it feels very compromised to vote for Hillary Clinton,” but that she planned to do so because Clinton would make better Supreme Court appointments and because of the danger she believes Trump poses to the country and the world. “He’s a loose cannon,” Butler said. “He strikes me also as profoundly ignorant [and] dangerous in his racism and in his contempt for basic rights.”
She told the Cairo Review that Clinton’s “liberal feminism” is based on a “market-based idea of equality” that does not sufficiently deal with issues of critical importance to global feminism such as poverty, literacy, and violence. “I think her feminism is admirable but I think it is limited,” Butler said. “It could be a problem if her version of liberal feminism comes to stand for feminism in the United States.”
Butler added that Clinton’s gender is not a “sufficient reason” to vote for her, commenting: “Maggie Thatcher was a woman. Golda Meir was a woman. There are women who conducted brutal wars and caused great suffering in the world. So I don’t think there is anything about being a woman that is important here in terms of understanding what kind of policies she might have. I haven’t liked Hillary’s foreign policy. I haven’t liked her hawkish impulses.”
The symbolic importance of electing a woman president may be constrained, Butler said, pointing out that “institutional forms of racism” and “racial inequality” persisted after the election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president in 2008.
The Fall 2016 edition of the Cairo Review features “Special Report: Democracy Deficits,” a survey of the state of liberty in the United States and around the world. It includes “Toward an Egyptian Open Society,” an essay by Nabil Fahmy, former Egyptian Foreign Minister and the dean of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, assessing the progress toward democracy since the election of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi two years ago.
To read The Cairo Review Interview with Judith Butler, “Special Report: Democracy Deficits,” and other essays in the Summer 2016 edition of the Cairo Review, go to www.thecairoreview.com.
The Cairo Review of Global Affairs is the quarterly journal of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP). The journal is available online at www.thecairoreview.com.
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